Will Florida Employees Have Social Media Privacy Protection In 2016?
A great number of people in Florida–and across the country–have some type of social media presence. Whether they choose to have profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Youtube, or other similar sites, social media can be an important tool to stay in touch and to share your ideas, opinions, photos, and videos. However, in Florida, employees can get in serious trouble and even terminated for posts on social media. In fact, an employer can even demand that an employee give them access to their social media pages by either handing over their passwords and usernames or by signing in with management nearby so management can view their profile. If they refuse, an employee may be terminated and may not have rights to a wrongful termination claim.
Such demands by an employer can be a huge invasion of privacy for employees. Over the past few years, many states have enacted laws that prohibit an employer from demanding access to employees’ social media profiles. Legislators in Florida have thus far been unsuccessful in passing such a provision, though a new proposal is on the table for the 2016 legislative session.
Senate Bill 186 (SB 186) aims to protect employees against an employer requiring or even requesting social media login information or access to social media profiles. If an employer violates this provision, they can face a civil action by the employee and $500 penalty for each violation. There would be several exemptions to the prohibitions, however, and employers would still be able to request such information in the following cases:
- If the employee becomes linked with a manager;
- If an employee uses social media for business purposes of the employer; and
- If an employer must access the account to be in compliance with law enforcement investigations or with federal or state laws.
As of now, Florida employers do have the right to fire someone for social media posts. Whether or not the new social media privacy law passes in 2016, employees in Florida should always be careful of what they post on social media and should never post anything questionable that has to do with their job duties or their employer just to be on the safe side. When statements on social media involve your job and do not involve a matter of public concern, the statements will likely not be protected under First Amendment rights to free speech and your employer may lawfully terminate you.
Discuss Your Rights With An Experienced Employment Law Attorney in Plantation, FL
An employee’s rights when it comes to social media accounts, passwords, and free speech can be complicated. If you are questioning whether your employer’s actions were lawful, you should not hesitate to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida employment law attorney at the law office of Robert S. Norell. We handle a wide array of employment, labor, and wage law matters and have successfully represented the rights of many employees in Florida. Please call our office today at 305-405-9243 for assistance.