Over 150 new laws went into effect in IL on January 1st, and there are some headline grabbers. Among them the new “sin” tax on live entertainment facilities to help fund sexual assault victim organizations, and “Caylee’s Law” (named after Caylee Anthony, whose mother Casey waited a month before notifying the police of her disappearance), which makes it a felony in IL to fail to report the disappearance of a child within 24 hours. However, a less glamorous change to the IL Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act is important to note for our business clients.
Many employers routinely check social networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to research prospective employees as part of their hiring practices. Many also periodically check the social networking websites of current employees to keep tabs on them as well. Both are prudent practices, but some employers have taken this one step further, wanting to see more than what is publicly available and requiring password information or access to more private areas of the various social networking websites.
As of January 1st, it is unlawful for an IL employer to require any current or prospective employee to provide his or her password or related account information for a social networking website, or to demand access to a current or prospective employee’s social networking website account or profile. So IL employers are now limited to the information about that individual that can be accessed by the general public on the various social networking websites.
It is important to note that “social networking websites,” as defined in the IL Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, do not include electronic mail systems, so IL employers are still able to obtain their employees’ e-mail passwords to monitor employee communications.
If you have any questions about this act, or human resources practices generally, please do not hesitate to give us a call!