Would Apply to Potential, Existing Employees & College Students
(TRENTON) — Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli issued a multimedia package Friday on his two-bill package to prohibit employers and colleges from requiring current or prospective employees or students to turn over their login information for social networking websites as a condition of employment or acceptance.
Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) said the bills stem from growing reports of private businesses and higher education institutions demanding Facebook login information from job applicants as part of the interview process.
The first bill (A-2878) would prohibit an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to provide or disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device. Employers would also be prohibited from asking a current or prospective employee if they have an account or profile on a social networking website.
Violations of the provisions of the bill would carry civil penalties up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.
The second bill (A-2879) would prohibit a public or private institution of higher education in New Jersey from requiring a student or applicant to provide or disclose any user name, password or other means for accessing a personal account or service through an electronic communications device.
Both bills would also prohibit an employer or college or university from requiring a prospective employee or applicant to waive or limit any protection granted under the bill as a condition of applying for or receiving an offer of employment. The bills also prohibit retaliation or discrimination against an individual who might file a complaint or testify as part of an investigation into violations of the law.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Assemblyman Burzichelli discussing his legislation and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of Assemblyman Burzichelli’s remarks is appended below:
Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester):
“There is a trend — a creeping trend — where employers are asking employees for personal information: passwords to their social media accounts — the one that comes to mind and people know probably the most is Facebook — so they can see the activities their employees, or potential employees, are engaged in.
“And the idea that, in order to keep your job or to get a job that you have to sacrifice your privacy to do that is something that is just not acceptable and has not been an accepted practice in this country. And again, it shouldn’t be a condition of potential employment that you have to sacrifice that privacy part of your life.
“Others have used the analogy, ‘It’s like the keys to your house.’ An employer isn’t entitled to come search through your drawers and look through your house and follow you around to see where you worship and where you may socialize.
“And so, the thought that an employer could ask — and some have asked — ‘Do you participate in social media?’ We’re making that question not legal. And others have asked for passwords and it’s just not acceptable. A job’s important, but Americans have a fundamental right to privacy.
“And we’re updating the ground rules because times have changed.”