About two years ago, Oregon enacted a law restricting employers from accessing the personal social media accounts of their applicants and employees. For more on the law, see our prior client alert.
Last week, Oregon’s governor signed a bill to broaden the protections of the state’s social media law. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2016 and specifically prohibits an employer from:
- requiring or requesting that an applicant or employee establish or maintain a personal social media account;
- requiring that an applicant or employee authorize the employer to advertise on his or her personal social media account; or
- taking (or threatening to take) adverse action against an applicant or employee for failing to establish or maintain a personal social media account.
It is important to note that the term “personal social media account” only refers to accounts used exclusively for personal purposes. The amendment does not cover accounts that are in any way related to a business purpose of the employer, or that are provided, or paid for, by the employer.
While twenty other states—Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin—have laws restricting employer access to personal social media accounts, none of those laws expressly include the protections added to Oregon’s social media law.
Interestingly enough, the concept for Oregon’s amendment came from the wife of a state senator. As reported in Oregon’s Statesman Journal, Senator Brian Boquist recalls introducing the legislation after his wife, Peggy Boquist, told him about a former Navy man who was turned away from a job at a large national company for refusing to establish a Facebook account.