With the emergence of popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook over the last decade, the eternal struggle between employee privacy and an employer’s best interests has taken on a new dimension. If you think your social media accounts are something like a private hobby, think again. In Florida, employers can ask for social media log-in information, and they can fire employees who don’t provide it. If you are an employer in Volusia, Seminole, Orange, or Flagler County, speak right away with an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney if you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights as an employer and the privacy rights of your employees.

The question of an employer’s right to access an employee’s social media accounts emerged beginning in 2012, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s the year when several state and local government agencies in Maryland and Oklahoma began asking for Facebook passwords as part of routine pre-employment background checks. State Senator Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth is now proposing legislation – Senate Bill 186 – that would bar employers from requesting user names, passwords, or any other means of accessing the social media accounts of employees or employment candidates. Employers could not retaliate against employees who refuse. The bill also would prohibit employers from refusing to hire someone on the basis of a job applicant’s refusal to provide access to a social media account. Workers could sue if the proposal becomes law and recover up to $500 per violation.

The proposal will be considered by the 2016 Florida Legislature, and if it becomes law, it would take effect next October 1.The laws impacting small businesses are changing all the time, so every central Florida small business owner needs routine and regular access to the advice and services of an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney. Learn more about your rights as an employer and the rights of your employees by meeting with a small business attorney as quickly as possible.