A growing trend in recent years has been for employers to require prospective employees to turn over the login information to their Facebook profiles and other social media accounts so that employers can examine them prior to making a hiring decision. This has caused many workers to feel that their personal privacy has been violated. Employers on the other hand feel that information contained on prospective employees’ social media accounts is vital information to have before investing time and money into a new employee.
However, the Arkansas General Assembly recently addressed this issue in this year’s legislative session. Act 1480 of 2013, codified as Arkansas Code Annotated § 11-2-124 and set to take affect later this year now prohibits an employer from requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing a current or prospective employee to disclose his or her username and password to the current or prospective employee’s social media account. Furthermore, the employer cannot require the employee, current or prospective, to change the privacy settings on a social media account, thereby making his or her profile available to the public. Also noteworthy under Act 1480 is that an employer cannot require an employee to add another employee, supervisor or administrator as a “friend” or contact on any social media account.
Under this act an employer cannot fail or refuse to hire a prospective employee for exercising his or her rights under the act, and an employer cannot discipline, take action against, or threaten a current employee for exercising his or her rights under the act.
However, an employer may still request an employee to disclose his or her login information for the purpose of accessing a social media account when the employee’s social media account is reasonably believed to be relevant to a formal investigation or proceeding by the employer relating to the employee’s violation of state or federal laws and regulations or the employer’s written policies.
Act 1480 of 2013 gives Arkansas workers a new privacy right they didn’t previously possess. However, an employer’s right to access its employees’ social media accounts is not completely extinguished. When an employer needs access to a social media account for the purpose of an ongoing investigation, the employer can still request the employee to disclose his or her login information.