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Legal Insider: Virginia Limits Employers’ Access to Social Media

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This is a biweekly sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

Employers have occasionally attempted to gain access to the social media accounts of current and prospective employees such as during workplace investigations or background checks. When employers request access to social media accounts of current and prospective employees, it promotes distrust in the employer-employee relationship and generally gives rise to a significant worsening of the relationship that could lead to other employment issues.

A new Virginia law, effective July 1, 2015, prohibits Virginia employers in the private, state, and local sectors from requiring current and prospective employees to disclose their username and passwords of their social media accounts or to add an employee, supervisor, or administrator to their contacts list.

The new law also prohibits an employer from accessing an employee’s social media account if the employer inadvertently obtains the employee’s login information. The new law, however, does not protect social media information that is publicly available.

Finally, the new law prohibits retaliation from an employer if an employee exercises his or her rights under the new law. Virginia is one of the latest states to enact social media protections for employees. View Virginia Code Section 40.1-28.7:5 for more information.

We represent employees and employers in employment law matters.  If you need assistance with an employment law issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation.  Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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