Texas Legislature May Take Up Issue of Employer Access to Employee Social Media Accounts

When the Texas Legislature convenes this week, it will have a chance to take on the hot-button issue of whether employers can require workers to turn over their passwords for social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
 
A bill proposed by Senator Juan Hinojosa (D-SD20) would make illegal for employers to require or request access to the personal social media accounts of employees and job applicants.  Here is how the proposed bill currently reads.
 
           A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

                       AN ACT
relating to prohibiting an employer from requiring or requesting
access to the personal accounts of employees and job applicants
through electronic communication devices; establishing an unlawful
employment practice.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter B, Chapter 21, Labor Code, is amended
by adding Section 21.0605 to read as follows:
Sec. 21.0605. REQUIRING OR REQUESTING PERSONAL ACCOUNT
ACCESS. (a) In this section, "electronic communication device"
includes a computer, telephone, personal digital assistant, or
similar device that uses electronic signals to create, transmit,
and receive information.
(b) An employer commits an unlawful employment practice if
the employer requires or requests that an employee or applicant for
employment disclose a user name, password, or other means for
accessing a personal account of the employee or applicant,
including a personal e-mail account or a social networking website
account or profile, through an electronic communication device.
(c) This section does not prohibit an employer from:
(1) maintaining lawful workplace policies governing:
(A) employee usage of employer-provided
electronic communication devices, including employee access to
personal accounts on those devices; or
(B) employee usage of personal electronic
communication devices during working hours;
(2) monitoring employee usage of employer-provided
electronic communication devices or employer-provided e-mail
accounts; or
(3) obtaining information about an employee or
applicant for employment that is in the public domain or that is
otherwise lawfully obtained.
SECTION 2. This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
Act takes effect September 1, 2013.

 
A similar bill has reportedly been filed by House Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto.  We will be watching the progress of these bills closely as this is an increasingly important issue to Texas employees.
 
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