Lately the legal coverage on social media is the supposedly widespread practice of employers demanding access to applicants' and employees' social media accounts. We blogged on May 11th about why employers should be concerned about the rash of legislation restricting employers' access to these accounts, so we don't need to rehash it here.
For those keeping count, Maryland is still the only state to have such a bill signed into law, but the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that as of June 5, 2012, 12 other states have proposed legislation pending that would ban employers' access to social media accounts.
There are legitimate reasons an employer may need to access social media, for example, investigating claims of insider trader or a harassment complaint. However, there are already federal and state laws that impact how an employer may access electronically stored information and to what use the information may be put.
Most notably, the federal Stored Communications Act has been used by employees to argue that employers have improperly accessed email and other electronic information.
In addition, the National Labor Relations Board has jumped with both feet into the fray and has issued rulings that an employers' social media policies, even in an non-unionized facility, violate the National Labor Relations Act's protections of concerted activity. In order to insure proper notice to employees, social media policies need to be carefully drafted.