While the New Year brings many new laws of which you should be aware, there are particular laws effective January 1, 2014 instituted by the Illinois legislature of which business owners should be particularly aware. Below is a brief summary of one of the laws that may affect Illinois business owners and employers.
Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (“Right to Privacy Act”)
Effective January 1, 2014, a new law passed by Illinois’ legislature amends the Right to Privacy Act by narrowing social media privacy law and further clarifying which social media accounts are subject to the Right to Privacy Act (the Right to Privacy Act prohibits employers from inquiring about certain information of employees or prospective employees, including passwords to social media accounts). The amendment clarifies that the Right to Privacy Act only applies to personal accounts used exclusively for personal communications that are not related to the employer’s business purposes. This specifically excludes professional accounts or services provided by the employer or that are used for business and work-related purposes.
The amended law further provides that where an employer seeks a password, account information or access related to a professional account, and not a personal account, an employer is not restricted from complying with its duty to screen employees or applicants prior to hiring. However, this exception would likely only apply to existing employees, as prospective employees would not have professional accounts to which an employer could request access. The exception also allows employers to seek access to a professional account to monitor or retain employee communications as required under Illinois insurance laws, federal law, or by a self-regulatory organization as defined by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The Right to Privacy Act defines “professional account” as an account, service, or profile created, maintained, used, or accessed by a current or prospective employee for business purposes of the employer, and defines “personal account” as an account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by a current or prospective employee exclusively for personal communications unrelated to any business purposes of the employer.
This is only a brief summary of the new law which amends the Right to Privacy in the Workplace and how it may affect Illinois businesses. There are numerous other amendments and new laws which have taken effect as of January 1, 2014.
Should you have any questions about this amendment to the Right to Privacy in the Workplace or any other law that may affect the operation of your business, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.
Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law.
This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.