State legislation concerning employee privacy in social media continues to grow with six states passing such legislation in 2014, including Tennessee, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. As discussed here, these laws focus on an employee’s right not to disclose personal social media passwords to an employer, as well as prevent employers from requiring access to content not available to the general public.
Oregon is the first state to go one step further. On June 2, 2015, Governor Brown signed SB 185, an amendment to Oregon’s social media law, which protects an employee’s right not to engage in social media.
SB 185 prohibits an employer from requiring or requesting an employee or applicant to establish or maintain a personal social media account, and from requiring an employee to advertise on their account. The bill also prohibits an employer from taking or threatening any adverse action for an employee’s refusal to establish or maintain a personal social media account, and makes it unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire an applicant because the applicant would not establish or maintain a personal social media account. “Personal social media account” is defined as a social media account used by the employee or applicant exclusively for personal purposes unrelated to the business purpose of the employer, and that is not provided by or paid for by the employer.
The bill leaves intact original language that prevents an employer from requiring disclosure of a personal password or the employee to add the employer to the employee’s list of contacts. The amended legislation takes effect on January 1, 2016.