Virginia Joins List of States Limiting Employer Access to Social Media Accounts


By: David A. Cole

Recently, Virginia enacted a new law that limits employer access to personal social media accounts of employees and job applicants.  The law, which takes effect on July 1, 2015, prohibits employers in Virginia from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose the username and password to his or her social media account.  The law also prohibits employers from requiring an employee or prospective employee to add another employee, a supervisor, or an administrator to the list of contacts associated with the individual’s social media account.  However, the law does not prohibit employers from viewing information on an employee’s or prospective employee’s social media account that is publicly available.

Virginia is now the 19th state to implement a workplace social media privacy law.  According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, similar legislation has been introduced or considered in at least 22 states during the 2015 legislative season, including Georgia, which is currently considering H.B. 138.  The Georgia law would prohibit employers from requesting usernames, passwords, or other means of accessing the social media accounts of employees or prospective employees, subject to certain exceptions, such as where social media activity is reasonably believed to be relevant to an investigation of an employee’s misconduct or violation of law.  The Georgia law also would subject employers to a civil penalty of between $200 and $400 per violation.  We will continue to monitor H.B. 138 and post any updates, so be sure to check back often for the most recent information.