Washington Enacts Bill Protecting Employee Social Media Passwords

On May 21, 2013, the Governor of Washington signed Senate Bill 5211 which prohibits employers from requesting social media passwords during a job interview or at the workplace, and prohibits employers from requiring employees to “friend” managers or supervisors so as to give employers access to employee social media postings. The law also bars employers from retaliating against employees who refuse to provide passwords or accept employer “friend” requests.

Employers may, however, request or require employees share content from personal social networking account(s) when an employer is conducting an investigation to: (i) ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulatory requirements, or prohibitions against work-related employee misconduct; or (ii) investigate an allegation of unauthorized transfer of an employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data to the employee’s personal social networking account.


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