Vermont Restricts Employer Access to Social Media Accounts

By Michael Klazema on 3/5/2018

Under newly adopted 21 V.S.A. § 495k (b), an employer may not require, request, or coerce an employee or applicant to do any of the following:

  • Disclose a username, password, or other means of authentication, or turn over an unlocked personal electronic device for the purpose of accessing the employee’s or applicant’s social media account;
  • Access a social media account in the presence of the employer;
  • Divulge or present any content from the employee’s or applicant’s social media; or
  • Change the account or privacy settings of the employee’s or applicant’s social media account to increase third-party access to its content.

In addition, an employer may not coerce or require an employee or applicant to add anyone—including the employer—to their list of contacts associated with their social media account. 

There are exceptions to this law. An employer may request an employee to share specifically identified content for the purpose of:

  • Complying with the employer’s legal and regulatory obligations;
  • Investigating an allegation of the unauthorized transfer or disclosure of an employer’s proprietary or confidential information or financial data through an employee’s or an applicant’s social media account; or
  • Investigating an allegation of unlawful harassment, threats of violence in the workplace, or discriminatory or disparaging content concerning another employee.

Please note that the law may not be construed to prevent an employer from complying with the requirements of state or federal law. The law does not apply to the employer’s own social media account.

What This Means to You

  • This update applies to all employers in Vermont.
  • Vermont made it illegal for employers to require employees and applicants to disclose usernames and passwords that would allow the employer to access personal online accounts.
  • Vermont made it illegal for employers to require an employee or applicant to add them (employer) to their list of contacts associated with their social media account.

House Bill 462 is accessible here for review:

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