The Connecticut General Assembly’s Labor & Public Employee Committee today is considering drafting a proposed bill “to prevent current or potential employers from requesting or requiring that employees or potential employees provide passwords to their personal accounts as a condition of their employment.”
I won’t mince words. Proposed Senate Bill 159 is a bad idea.
It’s a solution in search of a non-exisitent problem and ultimately it would have serious ramifications for employers in Connecticut.
Ohio is currently considering the same type of bill and Jon Hyman, from the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, neatly summarized the reasons why this remains a bad idea. Here are two of them which are directly applicable to Connecticut:
- It contains no exceptions for internal investigations. Suppose, for example, Jane Doe reports that a co-worker is sending her sexually explicit messages via Facebook. You have an absolute duty under both Title VII and [state] employment discrimination statute to investigate and take whatever remedial action is necessary to ensure that any misconduct ends. Yet, this bill would prohibit you from even asking the accused to provide access to his Facebook account as part of your investigation.
- It contains no exceptions for regulated industries. For example, registered representatives have special rules that dictate what they can or cannot say to clients and prospective clients via social media. FINRA requires employers to track and maintain records of the communications between registered reps and the public. Yet, this bill would prohibit a securities firm from requiring its registered reps to turn over these communications. It would also prohibit the firm from even asking for access to a rep’s social media account to investigate a customer complaint or regulatory issue.
I’m not advocating employers ask their employees for their passwords on a routine basis. It’s poor human resources practice. But what Connecticut doesn’t need is another knee-jerk piece of legislation that will do much more harm than good.
The bill already received a preliminary thumbs up in the committee a few weeks ago. The CBIA has opposed it and suggested very narrow language to address whatever concerns are there.
Let your local legislator know that this bill should go no further in its current format.