Sweeney Legislation Protecting Privacy Of Workers Clears Senate

A view of the Senate Chambers from the 2010-2011 Senate Reorganization.

Bans Employers/Higher Ed Institutions From Requiring Password Information

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D – Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland) that would protect the privacy of workers in the private sector and at institutions of higher learning cleared the full Senate today.

The first bill, S1915, also sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan (D – Atlantic), would prohibit an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee from having to provide or disclose any electronic user name or password, or in any way provide the employer access to a personal account, such as Facebook. The second bill, S1916, would provide the same prohibitions against any private or public institution of higher learning in New Jersey.

“People deserve to have privacy in their lives, no matter what they might do or where they work for a living,” said Sweeney. “The fact that employers were using social networking sights to skirt the law is deplorable. This legislation will close that loophole and allow people at least some piece of privacy in their lives.”

“Employers are entitled to know about the people they are hiring, but there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed,” said Whelan. “We can’t simply start using people’s personal profiles to make blanket judgments on who they are. Everyone is entitled to at least some sliver of privacy.”

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported on a growing trend by private and public sector employers asking current and prospective employees for their social media passwords as part of a job interview process or to conduct background checks. Further reports indicated that prospective employers were reviewing job applicants’ social media accounts to get answers to questions they could not legally ask. Maryland and Illinois have passed laws to prohibit employers from asking for social media credentials. California has introduced similar legislation.

Both bills now head to the Assembly.

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