Bill would ban employers from demanding social media passwords



OLYMPIA, Wash. -  

As some companies are demanding that current or prospective employees hand over their passwords to social media accounts, a new bill aims to stop that practice.


While a lot of people are free-wheeling on Facebook and Twitter, workplace relations experts have been warning that bad judgment on social media sites could get one bounced from their job or ruin chances of getting one.


Some companies are demanding passwords from current employees with the threat of termination if they don’t comply.


Senate Bill 5211 aims to stop companies from directly or indirectly demanding a password to a social networking site as a condition of hiring or continued employment.


The bill’s sponsors said the issue may not be huge now, but they want to stop the practice before it becomes widespread.


The bill would not prohibit companies from looking at publicly available pages.


In addition, the new bill in Washington would award employees who win court battles about the issue $500 paid by the employer as well as reasonable attorney fees and damages.


Six states have enacted similar bills, and Congress is looking at a federal version.