Some Wisconsin employers routinely ask job applicants to provide access to their Facebook and other social media accounts as part of the hiring process. That may soon change. A state legislator has introduced a bill that would prohibit employers from asking job applicants and employees to provide their social media log-in information or to otherwise provide access to their accounts as a condition of employment.
One issue with requiring access is the potential for illegal workplace discrimination. It is unlawful to base a hiring decision on a job seeker's protected class status. During the hiring process, an employer thus should not seek information that could reveal an applicant's age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other protected class status. Yet this is the kind of information that may be available on the applicant's social media profile.
Unless and until the proposed legislation becomes law, applicants have limited options when prospective employers demand access to their personal social media accounts. If access is refused, the applicant likely will not get a job offer. If the applicant provides access and then is denied employment, there may be grounds to pursue a workplace discrimination claim.
Source: GazetteXtra.com, "Bill would protect job seekers," April 21, 2013