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May 8 — Employers in Connecticut would be barred from requiring employees or job applicants to provide them with access to their personal online accounts under a measure (S.B. 426) cleared by the Connecticut General Assembly when the House approved the bill May 6.
The measure would prohibit employers from requesting or requiring an employee or job applicant to provide a user name, password or other way to access the employee's or applicant's personal online accounts; authenticate or access such an account in front of the employer; or invite, or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group affiliated with such an account.
The bill, which the Senate passed April 22, was sent to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (D) for consideration. A spokesman for Malloy told Bloomberg BNA May 8 that the governor and his staff are reviewing the legislation.
If Malloy signs the measure, Connecticut would become the 21st state to restrict employer access to worker and applicant accounts. Montana enacted such a law April 23.
Under the bill, a “personal online account” is an online account the employee or applicant uses exclusively for personal purposes unrelated to any of the employer's business purposes, including e-mail, social media and retail-based websites.
Employers covered by the bill include the state and its political subdivisions, but its prohibitions don't apply to a state or local law enforcement agency conducting a preemployment investigation of law enforcement personnel.
If enacted, the law would take effect Oct. 1 and would allow for fines of up to $25 per initial violation involving job applicants; up to $500 for initial violations involving employees; up to $500 for subsequent violations involving applicants; and $1,000 for subsequent violations involving employees.
It doesn't include any account created, maintained, used or accessed by an employee or applicant for the employer's business purposes.
The legislation doesn't prevent employers from checking out employees' or job applicants' public online accounts or profiles, Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) Assistant Counsel Eric Gjede told Bloomberg BNA May 8.
Gjede said the CBIA supported the measure. He noted that the legislation wouldn't bar employers from monitoring what type of sites employees are visiting or activities they are engaged in while using devices provided by their employer and wouldn't prevent employers from investigating leaks of confidential or proprietary information.
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S.B. 292, as cleared by the General Assembly, is available at http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/FC/2015SB-00426-R000292-FC.htm.
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