As we have previously reported, a growing list of jurisdictions have enacted social media privacy laws applicable to employers.  The most recent state to join the list is Maine, which brings the total to 22 states having enacted similar measures.

Under Maine’s law, an employer may not:

  • Require or coerce an employee or applicant to disclose the password to a personal social media account;
  • Require or coerce an employee or applicant to access a personal social media account in the presence of the employer or its agent;
  • Require or coerce an employee or applicant to disclose any personal social media account information;
  • Require or cause an employee or applicant to add anyone to the list of contacts associated with a personal social media account;
  • Require or cause an employee or applicant to alter or change setting to allow a 3rd party to view the content of a personal social media account;
  • Discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize (including the threat of same) an employee for refusing to disclosure or provide access to a personal social media account as prohibited above;
  • Fail or refuse to hire an application for refusing to disclosure or provide access to a personal social media account as prohibited above.

Importantly, Maine’s law, like many of the other similar laws which have been enacted, does not prohibit or restrict an employer from requiring an employee to disclose personal social media account information the employer believes to be relevant to an investigation of employee misconduct or a workplace-related violation of laws, rules, or regulations — so long as the information accessed is used solely for purposes of the investigation or a related proceeding.

The prohibition on employer access to personal social media accounts began in 2012 and in the past 3 years has expanded to 21 additional states.  We expect this trend to continue elsewhere in 2016.