Employers: You Might Not Be Able to Demand Access to Employee’s Social Media Accounts

On June 18, 2012 the PA House of Representatives introduced Bill 2332, also known as – PA’s Social Media Privacy Protection Act. The bill is meant deter employers from requesting social media passwords and access to personal social media accounts of employees and prospective employees.

Employers are still able to view and use what is found in the public domain. That means if you are posting something negative about your employer on a social media site, such as Facebook or Twitter, your employer is within their rights to fire. Employers can also restrict usage of electronic devices and internet site.  However the bill specifically states what they are not permitted to do:

Section 3.  Privacy protection.

(a)  General rule.–An employer may not request or require
that an employee or prospective employee disclose any user name,
password or other means for accessing a private or personal
social media account, service or Internet website.

(b)  Refusal.–An employer may not do any of the following:

(1)  Discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize or
threaten to discharge, discipline or otherwise penalize an
employee for an employee’s refusal to disclose any
information specified under subsection (a).

(2)  Fail or refuse to hire any prospective employee as a
result of the prospective employee’s refusal to disclose any
information specified under subsection (a).

Read the full bill here: House Bill – 2332

In my opinion this is absolutely the correct decision. Expecting employees and prospective employees to give up their passwords to social media is a clear violation of privacy. It would be like expecting them to give you their personal email account passwords or the password to their personal voicemail.

What do you think?

As an employer if you’re nervous about how employees are using social media platforms, the best thing to do is have a clear company wide policy with the rules.  If you need help with this reach out to us. We can help you create the social media policy that best suits your business.

Does Your Company Need a Social Networking Policy?

Social Media in the Workplace

Do You Need a Social Networking Policy
by Jeannine Hohman, HR Strategist, TriStarr Staffing

Today’s employers are faced with many challenges, including managing a multi-generational workforce. Employees come from many backgrounds, cultures and the generations may span between World War II (born before 1940) and Baby Boomer (born 1941 – 1964) through Millennial (born 1980 – 2000). Managing different personalities, work ethics and conflicts may be challenging, but grasping and reigning in social networking for employees may be a necessity.

Some of the most recognized social media websites are Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. What was once just a personal way to communicate and stay in touch with people has now become a mainstay in both personal and professional communications and networking. The line between personal and professional time is becoming increasingly blurred as more employees bring home their laptop, telecommute or have access to the office after hours via remote access.

With regard to social media, an important message to get across to all employees is that what they say, do and post can be a reflection on your organization – that can be either positive or negative. The negative is usually where the trouble begins.

In today’s business environment, it is highly recommended to have a social media policy in place. A policy serves as a communication tool so that all employees are made aware of what is expected and what is not acceptable. In addition, having a clear, well written policy can help to protect the organization from negative activity and the “darker side” of these websites.

Below are some tips on what to consider when putting together a social media policy:

  • Not having a policy is risky – all it takes is one individual posting something negative or cringe worthy to expose the organization to bad publicity or even legal action.
  • Blocking sites may hurt the organization – by cutting access to certain networking sites, organizations may be turning away business. These sites can also be a valuable recruiting tool.
  • The policy should be clear and specific – Employees should understand the ramifications of not using the social networking media correctly. Some questions to consider: Can employees list the company as their workplace? Can they “friend” clients or vendors?
  • Define private – Many individuals are under the false impression that what they do and post on their personal computer remains private. Remind employees that posting on public forums is never private. Bad mouthing the organization or a fellow employee on the Internet is basically the same as putting the message on a billboard.
  • Give employees the tools needed to use social media effectively – training is essential. Again, the workforce contains multi-generations and not all of these generations are as knowledgeable or comfortable with this technology.



Jeannine Hohman is a Human Resource Stategist at TriStarr Staffing.  She is responsible for providing organizations with strategic HR support through such services as employee handbooks, job descriptions, training, FLSA, policies, procedures and employment compliance issues.

 Disclaimer: TriStarr Staffing is one of our clients.