August 29, 2013 – After initially vetoing legislation in May, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today signed into law legislation that will prohibit employers from requiring job applicants or current workers to provide their user names and passwords for social media sites. In doing so, New Jersey becomes the twelfth state to enact such a measure. The law goes into effect December 1, 2013.
After Christie’s veto, the bill was revised to, among other things, remove language that allow employees to bring civil actions for alleged violations. Instead, employees can report violations to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which is authorized to levy civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.
In addition, the revisions struck language that would have barred companies from asking workers whether they have a personal social media account. In comments that accompanied his veto, Gov. Christie expressed concern that such broad language would prevent employers from assessing an employee’s technical skills and media savvy.
The revised bill provides for specific employer rights, as requested by Christie. These include a provision allowing employers to investigate compliance with applicable laws, regulations or employer policies when they receive specific information concerning a personal social media account.
Written by Bruce Sarkisian, Associate, Privacy & Data Security | Alston & Bird LLP