New NY Social Media Prohibitions:  Employers Beware

April 11, 2024

New York Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation that significantly restricts employer’s access to and use of personal social media accounts.  If you are currently including a social media search as part of your recruiting or employment screening or monitoring process, you are likely impacted. 

Effective March 12, 2024, New York imposed a strict prohibition on a New York employer’s ability to look at applicant’s and employee’s social media accounts.  The exceptions are limited to law enforcement, fire departments, and departments of corrections and community supervision.  Additionally, there are some provisions to access publicly accessible social media accounts or those voluntarily shared when investigating suspected misconduct. 

Enforcement of the new law falls under the New York Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards.  There is no private right of action. 

The new law does not prohibit employers accessing applicant’s and employee’s business-related social media accounts as long as they are clearly identified as such. 

Other States with Similar Prohibitions 

New York is not the first state to implement protections to employee’s private social media activity.  At least twenty states have some form of protection on the books, including California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersy and Vermont. These laws prohibit requiring applicants and employees to provide login credentials, adding the employer as a “friend” or forcing them to share their private posts.  With New York’s strict new prohibitions, the trend is clear and obvious. The line between an individual’s right to privacy and an employer’s right to know is growing thicker. 

Employer Best Practices 

  • Review the new law thoroughly to determine how it applies to your specific circumstances 
  • Communicate the new prohibitions to all recruiters, hiring managers, and management 
  • Review and update written policies and procedures 
  • For those outside New York, determine if the state(s) you operate in have similar restrictions on accessing employee’s social media accounts.  If so, notify your teams and update your policies accordingly. 

Removing Social Media in Background Packages 

If you are currently running social media searches as part of your background check process and would like to remove access to social media searches, please contact Frasco Profiles Customer Service at (800) 820-9029. 

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