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New York State Prohibits Employers from Requesting Employee’s and Applicant’s Social Media Credentials

Effective March 12, 2024, New York Labor Law prohibits employers from requiring employees and job applicants to provide information about their personal accounts. If you think this sounds familiar, you are right. This idea has been in place in various states for years; now New York is joining in!

Under the new legislation, “personal accounts” are broadly defined. It means “an account or profile on an electronic medium where users may create, share, and view user-generated content, including uploading or downloading videos or still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, or internet website profiles used exclusively for personal purposes.”

Specifically, Employers may not require employees or job applicants to:

  1. disclose the username, password, or “other authentication information” for accessing personal accounts;
  2. access a “personal account in the presence of the employer;” or
  3. “reproduce in any manner photographs, videos, or other information contained within a personal account.”

However, nothing in the law prevents employers from:

  • Accepting voluntary friend requests sent from an employee or applicant (although such actions may not be wise!);
  • Accessing public social media accounts;
  • Accessing information about an employee or applicant that can be obtained without any access information;
  • Accessing information “for the purposes of obtaining reports of misconduct or investigating misconduct, photographs, video, messages, or other information that is voluntarily shared by an employee, client, or other third party that the employee subject to such report or investigation has voluntarily given access to contained within such employee’s personal account.” If your strategy is to argue that in response to an employer request, the applicant or employee “voluntarily” gave permission, that may be a very tough burden to meet!

Employers who ask applicants or employees to share their social media accounts should proceed with caution. This area of law in New York is new and quickly evolving. Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560