Maine Cannot Ask Employees for Access to Social Media

magnify_Social media privacy legislation has seen a dramatic increase in interest in state legislatures recently. In 2015 alone, at least 23 states have introduced or considered measures to restrict employers’ ability to track, access, or demand social media information from employees, and since 2012, 21 states enacted such legislation – Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Maine is the latest in this growing trend despite Republican Governor Paul LePage’s attempt to block the new law. Unfortunately for Gov. LePage, the Supreme Court of Maine found that he missed the deadline to veto the legislation along with the dozens of other bills he opposed.

Under Maine’s new law, public and private employers cannot ask an employee or applicant to hand over their social media or e-mail passwords, or make them log on to such services in their presence. The law contemplates fines that increase in punishment from $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second, and $500 for each violation thereafter.

Employers in the above listed 21 (and now, with Maine, 22) states should be mindful of these restrictions and put management on notice of the possible consequences of violating these laws.