Effective October 1, 2015, employers in the State of Connecticut are restricted from requiring or requesting employees and job applicants to provide access to “personal online accounts,” which include email, social media and retail-based Internet web sites used exclusively for personal reasons. Specifically, the new law (Public Act No. 15-6) (“the Act”), prohibits employers from requesting or requiring employees or job applicants to: provide the username and password, password, or other means of authentication to access an individual’s personal online account; authenticate or access a personal online account for the employer to view; or invite an employer to accept an invitation or be compelled to accept an invitation from an employer to join a group related to a personal online account.
Tagged: Social Media
On August 29, 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill that prohibits most employers from requiring employees or prospective employees to disclose user names and passwords for social networking accounts like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The new law, which goes into effect December 1, 2013, makes New Jersey the 13th state to enact legislation protecting the social networking accounts of employees. The Gibbons Employment Law Alert previously covered the proposed bill before it became law.
On Monday, May 5, 2013, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie issued a conditional veto of Assembly Bill No. 2878, the controversial piece of proposed legislation that sought to bar most employers from requiring current or prospective employees to provide user names or passwords to social networking accounts and from inquiring as to whether current or prospective employees even had social networking accounts.
A Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) plaintiff’s leave was proven fraudulent through her Facebook postings, resulting in summary judgment for her employer, dismissing her complaint. The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan concluded that the employer’s reason for her termination was legitimate and unrelated to her exercise of FMLA rights.
At the Gibbons Second Annual Employment & Labor Law Conference last week, one panel discussion addressed the National Labor Relation Board’s (“NLRB”) recent activity, and offered a list of topics to watch in 2013. This blog post contains the highlights from that discussion as related to employer policies. Of prime interest in our predictions for 2013 is the “recess appointment” issue. Just three weeks ago, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 25, 2013) held that three 2012 recess appointments of officers to the NLRB by President Obama were unconstitutional because they lacked the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate and were not authorized by the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.
Confidentiality and Non-Disparagement Provisions in Employment Agreement Deemed Unlawful by NLRB Judge
Over the past two years, the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”) has attacked various employment policies of union and non-union employers alike, ranging from social media policies to policies that establish protocol for employees to follow when responding to media inquiries. The Board also has been critical of at-will language commonly found in employee handbooks and policies used by employers throughout the country. In light of the Board’s recent actions, some employers–particularly non-union employers that have not historically focused on Board developments–have begun to reassess policy language that has long existed in their handbooks. Due to a recent administrative law judge (“ALJ”) decision, employers should add employment agreements to their list of employment practices to review and Board developments to watch in 2013.
In a recent decision, a NLRB administrative law judge (the “ALJ”) found three policies in the Dish Network’s nationally-distributed handbook unlawful: a social media policy, a policy that restricts contact with the media, and a policy that restricts contact with government agencies. While the challenge to the social media policy is nothing new, the decision serves as a reminder for union and non-union employers alike that no policy is safe from scrutiny by the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board” or the “NLRB”).
As we near the end of the year, now may be a good time to dust off your employee manual and training programs! An annual review of policies is a good best practice that can save your company both time and money in the long run. For instance, have you considered revising your policies or offering trainings in areas that have been the focus of recent legal activity such as: social media, confidentiality, reasonable accommodations, or bullying.
In light of recent guidance by the National Labor Relations Board (the “Board”), non-union employers should review the “at-will” language found in their handbooks (and many standalone policies) to make sure it does not constitute an unlawful waiver of an employee’s right to engage in union activity. By now, it should come as no surprise that the Board has an interest in non-union workplaces. From promoting a mandatory workplace posting requirement to challenging seemingly innocuous social media policies, the Board should be on the radar screen for all employers. Most recently, the Board has weighed in on at-will disclaimers found in most handbooks or manuals. Such disclaimers typically explain that the employment relationship is not a contractual one, and the employer or employee can end employment at any time for any reason so long as that reason is not unlawful.
Taking Over Former Employee’s LinkedIn Account Not a Violation of Federal Law, According to Pennsylvania District Court
A Pennsylvania Federal District Court has decided that an employer did not violate the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) or the Federal Lanham Act, when it took control of a departed employee’s LinkedIn account. The Court ruled that (1) the CFAA, which in part prohibits unauthorized access to a computer with the intent to defraud, did not come into play and (2) no trademark infringement in violation of the Lanham Act had occurred.