Louisiana Restricts Employer Access to Social Media Accounts

By Michael Klazema on 6/2/2014

Louisiana House Bill 340 was adopted and sent to Governor Jindal for executive approval on May 15, 2014. This bill, cited as the “Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act,” prohibits employers and educational institutions from requesting or requiring access to the personal online accounts of job applicants, employees, students and prospective students. The new law goes into effect immediately.

The Act applies to “educational institutions” and “employers.”  The definition of “educational institutions” is all-inclusive. It applies to all universities, colleges and academies, secondary schools, kindergarten and nursery schools, professional, technical and vocational schools, as well as, public and private education testing service or test administrators, and agents of educational institutions. “Employer” is defined to mean a person, including a unit of state or local government, engaged in a business, industry, profession, trade, or other enterprise in the state, and includes an agent, representative, or designee of the employer.

The Act makes it unlawful for an employer to:

  1. Request or require an employee or applicant for employment to disclose any username, password, or other authentication information that allows access to the employee’s or applicant’s personal online account; or
  2. Discharge, discipline, fail to hire, or otherwise penalize or threaten to penalize an employee or applicant for failure to disclose any information provided for under Act.

Similarly, educational institutions are prohibited from engaging in the same conduct towards students and prospective students.

The Act does permit certain access to or disclosure of personal internet accounts. Under the Act, employers (or educational institutions) may gain access to or operate accounts, services, or electronic devices that it provides to employees (or students). Also, the prohibition does not apply to information obtained lawfully or that is found in the public domain. Nothing in the Act prohibits employees (or students) from self-disclosing usernames, passwords, or other authentication information to allow employers access to personal online accounts.

The restrictions under the Act do not apply when employers (or educational institutions) are required by state or federal laws, rules or regulations, case law, or rules of self-regulatory organizations to screen employees or applicants (students or prospective students) prior to hiring or to monitor or retain employee communications. Also, employers may require an employee to provide a personal e-mail address in order to facilitate communication with the employee in the event the employer’s e-mail system fails.

The passage of this legislation makes three states this year that have enacted laws restricting employer access to social media accounts. Tennessee did it earlier this month, and Wisconsin passed a social media law in April. We will let you know if other states pass similar legislation.

Access to House Bill 340 is available here: 

Compliance Update (5/20/2014) – Tennessee:

Compliance Update (4/22/2014) – Wisconsin:

Tag Cloud
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • February 18

    Many hiring decisions are based mostly on candidates’ past work experiences. Here’s how a background check can verify employers to make sure those hiring decisions are grounded in fact.

  • February 14 As more states legalize various forms of marijuana, past marijuana convictions are still causing concern while uncertainty over substances such as CBD drives new arrests. 
  • February 12 A new bill in the New York State legislature could add new requirements for school employee background checks. Currently, private schools are not required to follow state mandates regarding background checks.
  • February 07 Some parents in El Paso, Texas have been left wondering about the strength of their city's youth sports procedures after a felon fraudulently took funds for a girls' soccer team.
  • February 06 If there is one way that volunteer organizations could serve their communities better, it’s implementing more thorough volunteer screening policies.
  • February 05 Madison County, Illinois has created a new initiative designed to help individuals overcome barriers to employment. Clients of the initiative will be able to explore criminal record expungement among other options.
  • February 01 An OfficeTeam survey found that the two most common forms of resume dishonesty had to do with past employers: job experience and job duties or responsibilities.
  • January 31 During the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, hundreds of thousands of federal employees have gone without work for more than a month. Some are finding temporary alternatives elsewhere.
  • January 29 A Florida nurse has been arrested for allegedly stealing two types of prescription pain medications from the county jail where she worked. The case highlights the importance of rigorous drug testing procedures for employment situations in which employees have access to prescription drugs.
  • January 24 After the airline failed to adequately disclose to applicants that they would undergo a background check, a court has ruled Delta did not meet its legislative obligations. The settlement highlights the importance of rigorous compliance.