WHAT A WAY TO END THE YEAR!

Over the course of this year I have written a lot about social media and labor law.  A couple of those posts have had to do with, as I put it, “gnashing of teeth” over employers requiring employees or applicants for employment to provide them with private passwords to social media accounts.  You can read those posts here and here.

Well, the gnashing of teeth is over here in Michigan.  On Friday Governor Snyder signed into law House Bill 5523.  This new law prohibits an employer or educational institution from requiring an employee or a student or an applicant to turn over a private social media password in order to get or keep a job or spot in a school.  I read somewhere, I can’t remember where, that this bill was a solution looking for a problem.  I’m inclined to agree.  I represent all kinds of clients all over this state, big and small, and I don’t know of a single one ever requiring that an employee or a candidate for employment turn over his or her Facebook password to get or keep a job.  But, the legislature and the Governor obviously thought it was important, so we now have Public Act 478 of 2012.

As I mentioned in April, the Act is pretty short.  It prohibits: “employers and educational institutions from requiring certain individuals to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts; to prohibit employers and educational institutions from taking certain actions for failure to disclose information that allows access to certain social networking accounts; and to provide remedies.”  Section 3 of the Act says:

Sec. 3. An employer shall not do any of the following:

(a) Request an employee or an applicant for employment to disclose access information associated with the employee’s or applicant’s social networking account.

(b) Discharge, discipline, fail to hire, or otherwise discriminate against an employee or applicant for employment for failure to disclose access information associated with the employee’s or applicant’s social networking account.

So there you go, the very last law signed by the Governor in 2012.

2013 can’t get here fast enough.