Vermont law bans employers from reviewing social media accounts of workers

Published: Jan. 2, 2018 at 10:49 AM EST
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A new law in Vermont that went into effect on New Year's Day bans employers from asking for the social media passwords of workers. Employers will also not be able to review private accounts at all, WCAX reports.

Champlain College Professor Elaine Young has been studying social media use for years. She says employers checking accounts isn't unusual.

"There have been stories of people saying show me your Facebook before I will hire you," Young said.

But that won't be allowed under Act 37. Its goal is to make sure employees have the opportunity to keep their social media -- and their work -- separate.

"They're not necessarily meant for the professional self, they're more about the well-rounded person, and employers in the past have sometimes made hiring decisions based on content in someone's social media account," Young said.

Jenna Schwerdtle, a senior at Champlain College, told WCAX she expects future employers to review parts of her social media accounts.

"If it was a job I really wanted I would be okay with it, just because I am kind of careful about what I do put out on social media, because I am aware that is something that could happen," Schwerdtle said.

There are a few exceptions to the law.

Employers can still ask to see accounts that are affiliated with the business, or if the employee's social media account is linked to harassment or legal issues. And if a job requires special security clearances, people holding down certain positions can expect more scrutiny.

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