Employer access to personal social media accounts may soon be off-limits in New Hampshire

by Jay Surdukowski
Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C.

On Thursday, June 6, the New Hampshire Senate approved a bill to protect the privacy of employees’ social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But Republicans tacked on an amendment that may doom the bill in the house.

Introduced by three Democratic lawmakers, House Bill 414 would prohibit an employer from requesting a current or prospective employee’s social media login and password information. Some employers have asked for such information as part of vetting prospective employees and supervising current personnel (although in privacy-vigilant New Hampshire, it isn’t known just how widespread such practices had become).

The bill doesn’t preclude an employer from obtaining information readily available online, nor does it prevent an employer from investigating compliance with securities and other financial laws when a personal website might be used to circumvent those laws. The bill also doesn’t preclude employers from enforcing workplace policies relative to the use of workplace computers and other technology that may be used to access social media (such as smartphones).

Republican Senator Andy Sanborn of Bedford, rumored to be a candidate for governor in 2014,  resurrected a measure on collective bargaining that had died in the house on a 191-135 vote in late May. The Republican-dominated chamber voted 13-11 to add the amendment to the social media privacy bill. The amendment gives the Legislature’s fiscal committee the power to deliberate on “cost items of every collective bargaining agreement entered into by the state.”  The measure is very unpopular in the Democratic-controlled house.

Should the measure pass, New Hampshire will join a dozen other states that have recently enacted such laws. Similar bills are pending in 35 statehouses across the country, according to the Associated Press.

HB 414 passed the house in March after receiving an overwhelming 19-1 favorable vote in the Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Should the amended bill pass the house and be signed by the governor, it will become effective in 60 days. Stay tuned to New Hampshire Employment Law Letter for the outcome.

Jay Surdukowski’s diverse practice focuses on litigation, including litigation on behalf of significant healthcare employers in the medical negligence, wrongful death, and personal injury arena as well as government relations. He is a frequent contributor to New Hampshire Employment Law Letter. You may contact him at jsurdukowski@sulloway.com or 603-223-2899 or follow him on Twitter at @Jay1043.

About New Hampshire Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from New Hampshire Employment Law Letter written by attorneys at the law firm of Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C. NEW HAMPSHIRE EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information purposes only. Anyone needing specific legal advice should consult an attorney. Contact attorneys at Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C..
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