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New Mexico, Utah Curb Employers from Demanding Private Social Media Information

New Mexico and Utah are joining California, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan in limiting employers’ access to social media accounts. A new law signed by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez makes it illegal for employers to request or require an applicant to provide his or her password, or demand access in any manner, to the applicant’s social media accounts or profiles. The statute appears to apply only to prospective employees, not current employees. In addition, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert has signed the state’s “Internet Employment Privacy Act” (IEPA) into law. Under the IEPA, employers are prohibited from asking an employee or applicant to disclose the username and password to access his or her “personal Internet account,” as well as taking adverse action against the individual for refusing to make the disclosure. Employees and applicants may sue employers for violating the IEPA. Damages are limited to $500 per violation. In this developing legal area, employers need to keep on top of developments and ensure their managers and supervisors are trained so they know their limitations in attracting, managing and disciplining employees.

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