Texas Employers May Be Prohibited From Requesting Access to Social Media Accounts of Applicants and Employees

Legislation has been introduced in the Texas Senate and House of Representatives that would broadly prohibit employers from requiring or requesting access to the personal e-mail or social media accounts of employees and applicants through electronic communication devices. If the legislation is passed, any such actions by employers would be an unlawful employment practice.

A hearing in the House Committee for Business and Industry was recently held to discuss the purpose and scope for such legislation and hear public testimony. The clear sentiment from the Committee is that such legislation is timely and necessary to protect the privacy rights of employees and applicants. Legislators are currently focused on drafting exceptions to the prohibition for certain industries and particular circumstances in which employers must investigate potentially illegal activity (e.g., harassment, securities violations, etc.).

Similar legislation has been enacted in at least four other states and is pending in twenty-nine states.