A recent article by the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse nicely lays out the current state of NLRB rulings and state laws dealing with employees’ use of social media.

Cyber-Screening Protections

In addition to highlighting recent NLRB reports rulings that address whether certain social media “speech” is protected under the NLRA, Greenhouse notes that six states now afford some level of protection to employees’ social media passwords.  Actually, only four of the six states Greenhouse refers to restrict employers’ ability to require employees and job applicants from disclosing their passwords to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – sometimes referred to as “cyber-screening”. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (“NCSL”), Maryland, Illinois, Michigan and California prohibit employers from requiring employees and job applicants to disclose their passwords.  Delaware and New Jersey’s laws protect only to applicants, students and employees of educational institutions, whereas the other states laws’ affect all employers.

Currently, social media legislation is being considered in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.  Stay tuned to our blog and see the NCSL’s page on Employer Access to Social Media User Names and Passwords to keep abreast of this topic, as more states are certain to address these issues.