Senate Passes Bill To Protect Privacy Of 21st Century Job Seekers

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TRENTON — The full Senate today advanced bipartisan legislation protect the privacy of job seekers by preventing employers from seeking passwords to access their Facebook or other social media accounts.

“Job seekers have the right and freedom to use their private online accounts without fear of privacy invasions or discrimination,” Republican state Sen. Kevin O’Toole said. “They should not be disqualified, threatened or in fear for denying an interviewer access to their photo albums, political affiliations, religious practices, sexual preferences and communications with family and friends.”

The bill would prohibits employers from requiring applicants to provide online passwords or in any other way access to their private accounts. This legislation also bans any associated discrimination or retaliation, allows applicants to sue for appropriate injunctive relief and damages and imposes a $1,000 initial fine and $2,500 fine for subsequent violations.

This measure was passed the Senate Labor Committee last month with amendments and clarifications that include prohibiting employers from requiring or requesting the employee to disclose whether he or she has an online account. An Oct. 4 Senate Floor Amendment exempts the Department of Corrections, State Parole Board, county corrections departments, and all State or local law enforcement agencies from the provisions of the bill.

“There are plenty of other steps in a job application process for employers to gain a profound understanding of an applicant’s experience, fitness and personality,” O’Toole concluded. “Applicants should not have to choose between preserving their due privacies and earning incomes.”

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