In January, House Bill 4999, which made significant changes to existing law on workplace privacy, went into effect. The new statute strengthens existing laws that prohibit employers and prospective employers from accessing the social media passwords of employees and applicants in Illinois.
According to the new amendments to the Freedom from Location Surveillance Act, it is unlawful for employers or prospective employers to request, require, or coerce an employee into providing a username or password in order to gain access to an employee’s personal online account. The new amendments also make it unlawful for employers and prospective employers to:
- Coerce an employee or applicant into utilizing a personal online account in their presence; and
- Require an applicant to invite an employer to join a group affiliated with any personal account.
Employers and prospective employers are also prohibited from discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, or retaliating against an employee who refuses to take the aforementioned actions or who files a complaint about the employer’s violation of the law.
However, the new law does not bar employers from asking an applicant to share certain content that has been reported to the employer, as long as he or she does not request the employee’s username or password and is making the request for the purpose of:
- Ensuring compliance with applicable laws or regulations;
- Investigating an allegation of work-related employee misconduct.
If an employer accidentally receives an employee’s username or password through technology that monitors the employer’s network for network security purposes, the employer cannot be held liable for having the information, unless he or she:
- Uses the information or allows a third party to use the information to access the employee’s online account; or
- Does not delete the information as soon as is reasonably practical even though he or she is aware of its existence, unless the information is being retained in connection with an ongoing investigation into the breach of a computer, network, or data security.
Contact an Experienced Employment Dispute Attorney
If your employer has terminated your employment or disciplined you for failing to give him or her the password and username information to a personal online account, please contact the legal team at the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline by calling (312) 558-1454 today.