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Washington Becomes Fifth State to Enact Social Media in Employment Legislation

Could Social Media in Employment Law be the one thing that legislators on both sides of the aisle agree on?  In Washington State, it certainly seems to be.  Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5211 relating to social media in employment after the bill got unanimous support in both the Washington Senate and Washington House.

The bill prevents employers from requiring applicants or employees to disclose their social media login information and prohibits “shoulder surfing.”  Shoulder surfing is the requirement to have someone logon to their social media account in the presence of another person.  In addition, the bill prohibits the requirement of an employee or applicant to “friend” the employer or lower the social media privacy settings of a social media account.  In addition, an employer may not take action against an employee or applicant for refusing to comply with any of the above improper requests.

The law permits someone against whom the law has been violated to sue for injunctive relief, actual damages, a $500 penalty and attorney’s fees.  The law also permits employers who are sued with  frivolous claims under the law to seek their attorney’s fees and expenses.

Spencer Fane’s State by State Guide (updated with this development) can be found here.