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

  • May 18 In search of more personnel and considering normalization, some major employers have elected to drop pre-employment drug screens for marijuana. As the opioid epidemic continues, there is still a role for workplace drug tests.
  • May 15

    A Congressional IT contractor who is facing bank fraud, a class-action lawsuit, and allegations of cyber breach never underwent a background check. Congressional guidelines recommend background screenings but have a loophole that makes it possible to skip them.

  • May 10 Are SSN background checks essential, or even necessary? We look at what Social Security Number data can and cannot do in the background check process.
  • May 10

    In the wake of an attack in which the perpetrator used a rental vehicle to strike pedestrians, and with a growing number of such attacks around the world in recent years, rental companies must consider how to address the issue. Effective security measures have proven difficult to implement.

  • May 08 Some statistics suggest employers aren’t running international background checks. In a job market where foreign candidates are increasingly common, this oversight can be dangerous.
  • May 03

    Despite player numbers in the millions, the primary sanctioning body for youth soccer in the United States established no standard policy requiring background checks. They face legal jeopardy due to the actions of abusive coaches. 

  • May 03 Are you applying for a job with Starbucks? Here’s what to expect from the background check process.
  • May 02 — Further restrictions have been placed on employers that inquire about prior criminal records. Timeframes have been adjusted and asking about expunged records is prohibited. 
  • May 01 Uber is expanding its background check policies. Going forward, the company will incorporate repeat background checks and ongoing criminal monitoring into its driver screening processes.
  • April 28 Airport background checks are governed by the TSA and FAA. They typically include employment history checks, criminal history searches, and a few other elements.