The National Labor Relations Board and the courts are steadily redefining social media as the new office water cooler, where employees can gather to freely discuss issues about their employment without interference from employers. Connecticut has now codified some of the protections provided to employees who operate on social media with a new statute that applies to all employers in the state, except state or municipal law enforcement agencies conducting pre-employment investigation of enforcement personnel.
Employees do not have to provide access to their Social Media accounts.
The new law, which took effect October 1, prohibits Connecticut employers from mandating that employees and applicants furnish the employer with access to their social media accounts. Employers also cannot require an employee or applicant to access their social media account in the employer’s presence, or require the employee or applicant to accept the employer as a social media contact. Employers cannot discharge, discipline, penalize or refuse to hire any employee or applicant who relies on the statute to maintain their social media privacy. The Labor Commissioner is allowed to impose fines, and order reinstatement and back pay if a violation of the statute is found to have occurred.
Limits give Employers the right to require employee participation in business related social media activity and protect confidential information.
There are limits to the protections offered by the new law. Employers can require employees to participate in business-related social media accounts maintained by the employer. The law also provides no protections to employees or applicants who post confidential information belonging to the employer without the employer’s permission. If an employer believes that such an abuse has occurred the employer can conduct an investigation that includes requiring the employee or applicant to allow the employer access to the employee or applicant’s online account. How and when such an investigation is appropriate will likely be the source of controversy.
If you have questions or concerns about how any of Connecticut’s employment standards apply to you contact Cacace, Tusch & Santagata.