Maine recently enacted a law that will prohibit employers from requiring or coercing applicants or employees to grant an employer access to their personal social media profiles. This means that employers will not be allowed to make applicants or employees, for example, “friend” them on Facebook or require them to provide the passwords to their Facebook profiles.
This law was passed in the wake of more and more employers checking the interent and social media to learn as much as they can about applicants and employees. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 21 states have laws similar to this new law because they want to protect workers’ privacy.
Maine’s new social media privacy law has exceptions for when employers need to conduct investigations into employee misconduct. However, if your employer requires or coerces you to let it access your social media profile and one of those exceptions do not apply, the statute will enable you to pursue legal action.
This new law will go into effect in Maine in October 2015. Even after it goes into effect, given the fact that there are exceptions in the law that permit employers to access workers’ social media profiles under certain circumstances, it is still wise to be careful about what you put in your social media profile. For instance, talking about using illegal drugs on your Facebook page could still hurt your ability to get or keep a job. That said, if your employer accesses your social media profile and you believe that it has done so illegally, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.