Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed Connecticut’s new social media law on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 prohibiting employers from:
(1) requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant provide the employer with a user name and/or password, or any other authentication means for accessing a personal online account;
(2) requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant authenticate or access a personal online account in the presence of the employer;
(3) requiring that an employee or applicant invite the employer or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account of the employee or applicant;
(4) discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against or otherwise penalizing any employee who refuses to provide the employer with the means to accessing a personal online account,
(5) fails or refuses to hire any applicant as a result of his or her refusal to provide the employer with access to the online account.
The law does not prohibit an employer from requesting or requiring an employer access to an account or service provided by the employer for the employer’s business purposes. In addition, the law allows an employer to fire, discipline or penalize an employee who has transferred an employer’s proprietary, confidential, or financial information to or from a personal online account. Similarly, employers are allowed under the law to conduct an investigation for ensuring compliance with state and federal laws or employee misconduct based on receipt of information about an employee’s online conduct or misappropriation of employer data.
Complaints that an employer has violated the law are filed with the Labor Commissioner. After hearing, the commissioner may levy a civil penalty of up to $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation and award the employee appropriate relief, including rehiring, back wages, benefits or “any other remedies that the commissioner may deem appropriate.” The commissioner may also request that the Attorney General bring an action in Superior Court to recover penalties levied against the employer. Employers should keep tabs on new social media laws as they are developed so policies can be adjusted and compliance monitored.