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New amendment to NY Labor Law protects rights of employees’ social media

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A new amendment to the New York Labor Law set to be put in effect March 12 will prohibit employers from requesting or requiring the login credentials of employees’ social media accounts.

According to Tully Rinckey PLLC, the law will also prevent employers from retaliating against employees or job applicants who refuse to do so.

Over 20 states have adopted this legislation including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.

“This law comes with caveats that New York State employers need to be aware of,” said Tully Rinckey Managing Partner Allen Shoikhetbrod. “As an example, the law notes that employers may access devices paid for in whole or in part by the employer—but that access must be known to the employee in advance. Employers and employees should be advised and review their rights when it comes to this new legislation.”

Employers may continue to view information on an individual’s personal social media account that is publicly available.

What will this new amendment do?

For those interested in the details of the new amendment, Tully Rinckey’s Jared Cook, a Senior Counsel in the Rochester office, has provided legal insight on the new law.

This law states that employers may not retaliate against an employee or job applicant for not providing social media login information, and Cook says employers should prepare for when it goes into effect.

“Employers should prepare for this amendment to the labor law by reading up on it and modify their employment practices if needed. Employers cannot request or require employees to provide login information for their personal social media accounts and cannot refuse to hire an applicant if the applicant for not disclosing information regarding their personal social media accounts,” said Cook.

In terms of exceptions to the law, Cook says “An employer may access information to a social media account provided by the employee or used for the employer’s business purpose. However, employers must provide advance notice of the employer’s right to request such access as a condition of employment.”

Cook reminds employees that they have the right to their privacy but should also keep in mind that employers can access content posted on public social media profiles.

As always, if the employee feels their rights are infringed upon they should consider contacting an attorney.

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