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Can An Employer Use My Social Media Against Me When Hiring?

July 29, 2021

When you are at work, you should expect that your privacy is being protected. However, those rights may be violated without your knowledge. In the U.S., the right to workplace privacy is dependent on the state, so protections vary from one to the other. However, in Illinois, employment attorneys are frequently hired to help their clients sue employers who use their social media account against them.

Amendments To Illinois Right To Privacy In The Workplace Act

In 2012, Illinois became the second state to forbid employers from seeking access to their employees’ and job applicants’ social media content and credentials. It was an amendment to the existing Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act and it came into effect in 2013.

Employers in Illinois know the Act restricts them from soliciting information to gain access to social media accounts. Before these amendments came into effect, the terms only covered social media sites such as Facebook pages. It now expands to cover personal online accounts used by others primarily for their own personal use.

The definition was amended to cover new technologies as they are developed. However, it does not specify whether it includes an employee’s email account such as Gmail.

Besides the aforementioned prohibitions, as per the new amendments, employers in Illinois cannot:

✔ Ask employees to open their social media in front of them.

✔ Require that employees add them as ‘friends’ or invite them to join their personal online accounts.

If employees suffer from adverse employment action due to their refusal to share their social media credentials, they are protected by the law. If this happens to you, you have every right to hire a Schaumburg employment attorney to fight for compensation.

Actions That Are Still Permitted

However, the amended regulations do not forbid employers from the following:

● Monitoring the use of social media, email, and equipment.

● Creating maintaining legal workplace policies on the use of electronic equipment. This includes addressing an employee’s use of a personal social media account, accessing or operating it during business hours or while connected to the network, or while using an employer device.

● Complying with state and federal laws.

● Asking employees to share specific content that was reported to the employer to ensure compliance with the law or with an investigation regarding legal violations or work-based employee misconduct.

If an employer violates privacy laws, employees and job applicants can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.

As an employee in Illinois, you should be able to work each day without fearing for your privacy or peace of mind. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

If you think you have been discriminated against or suffered an unfair negative action from your employer because you refused to provide your social media credentials, get in touch with an Illinois employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael T. Smith. We have represented employees throughout Illinois who have been discriminated against or wrongfully terminated in the area for years. Contact us so we can start fighting for your rights today.