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By Erin L. Kilgore

On May 13, 2014, Louisiana’s legislators joined the ranks of several other states by passing legislation to prevent employers and schools from demanding access to social media, personal email, and other online accounts.  House Bill 340, also known as the Personal Online Account Privacy Protection Act, will prohibit employers from: (1) requesting or requiring an employee or applicant to disclose information that allows access to the employee or applicant’s personal online account; and (2) taking adverse employment against the employee or applicant for failure to disclose such information.

The bill also includes some significant protections for employers.  Here are some of the highlights.  For example, an employer is not prohibited from disciplining or discharging an employee for transferring the employer’s proprietary or confidential information or financial data to an employee’s personal online account without the employer’s authorization.   In addition, the bill specifically states that an employer is not prohibited from restricting or prohibiting an employee’s or applicant’s access to certain websites while using an electronic communications device paid for or supplied (in whole or in part) by the employer, or while using an employer’s network or resources, in accordance with state and federal law.  Further, an employer shall not be prohibited or restricted from viewing, accessing, or utilizing information about an employee or applicant that can be obtained by lawful means, i.e. without any required access information or that is available in the public domain.  Finally, the bill would not create a duty on behalf of the employer to monitor an individual’s personal online account.

The Bill is now before Governor Jindal.  Additional information about the bill can be found here.