California Employment Lawyer: Facebook Privacy to Shape Employment Landscape

04/09/2012 // Los Angles, CA, USA // Keller Grover LLP // California Employment Lawyer Eric Grover

Los Angeles, CA (California Employment Lawyer News) — It’s no surprise that employers “Google” prospective employees and do some of their research about a job applicant through public information—regardless of what platform that may be. But eyebrows are being raised as reports are beginning to surface about employers, who are demanding a job applicant’s Facebook password, which could potentially be in violation of a number of different labor and civil regulations, reports California employment lawyer Eric Grover of Keller Grover LLP.

As the debate over whether this seemingly new “application requirement” continues to heat up, Facebook and certain legislative bodies are starting to weigh in, explains Grover, a California employment attorney.

Facebook has publicly condemned this practice and vows to fight for its members’ privacy—even if that means going to court.

Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer for Policy, Erin Egan, explained that the practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends. It also potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

This “legal liability” can include claims of discrimination against an employer who may see on an applicant’s Facebook account that a prospective employee belongs to a specific “protected group (e.g. over a certain age, etc.) and consequently does not hire them, or if an employer is exposed to certain information (e.g. suggesting that a crime has been committed) and is unaware of how to proceed, the Huffington Post reports.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also asserts that this practice is an invasion of privacy, and is pushing a bill in Maryland to “prohibit employers from requiring or requesting employees or applications to disclose their user names or passwords to Internet sites and Web-based accounts as a condition of employment.”

Furthermore, this practice could “implicate state invasion of privacy laws and the Federal Stored Communications Act (for unauthorized access to communications in storage when passwords are obtained under duress) or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (intentional access to a computer without authorization),” national law firm Nixon Peabody reports.

But, job applicants are facing a setback in the federal arena. The House of Representatives has rejected an amendment, proposed by Representative Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, that would give the FCC the power to stop employers from asking job applicants for their password to Facebook and other social networking sites, PC World reports.

“What this amendment does is it says that you cannot demand, as a condition of employment, that somebody reveal a confidential password to their Facebook, to their Flickr, to their Twitter, whatever their account may be,” Perlmutter said during a speech on the House floor, as reported by PC World.

The FCC amendment was shot down with a 236 to 184 vote.

“This issue is likely to spark a long court battle over whether or not this practice is illegal, but employers should err on the side of caution and refrain from asking for any social media passwords—it’s better to be safe than sorry,” explains Grover, a California employment lawyer. “The outcome of this debate may forever change and shape the employment landscape, and what can or cannot be used in job applications or as a condition of employment.”

“It’s important that job applicants still have some sense of privacy,” Grover continues.

This news was brought to you by the Los Angeles employment lawyers at Keller Grover LLP.

Keller Grover is an experienced employment law firm that has played leading roles in a wide variety of employment related claims, including wage and hour, breach of contract cases and discrimination and harassment cases based on race, sex, age, disability and other legally protected categories. Keller Grover LLP is dedicated to helping workers whose wage and hour rights have been violated. For more information about the California employment lawyers at Keller Grover and employment law cases, please visit www.kellergover.com.

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