NEW CA LABOR LAWS 2013 SOCIAL MEDIA PRIVACY FOR EMPLOYEES AND JOB APPLICANTS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California Labor Code 980, effective January 1, 2013, prohibits employer access to its workers’ personal social media.

The new law defines “social media” as “an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, email, online services or accounts, or Internet Web site profiles or locations.”

Thus, to name a few, the new rule covers such social networking, blogging, and other information sharing sites as Facebook, Faceparty,, Twitter, Tylted, Tagged, Tumblr, YouTube, Yammer, Yelp, Flickr, Flexster, Friendster, Fotolog, Fotki, Foursquare, Fubar, LinkedIn, Lafango, LAGbook, LaiBhaari,, LibraryThing, Lifeknot, LiveJournal, Livemocha, Instagram, Ibibo,, Itsmy, iWiW, Bebo, BeNaughty, Black Planet, Blogster, BIGADDA, Buzznet, Habbo, Hi5, Hotlist,, Pinterest, Partyflock, Pingsta, Plaxo, PureVolume, Playfire,, Plurk, Path, PerfSpot, PatientsLikeMe, Redddit, CafeMom, Care2,,, Christian Mingle, CouchSurfing, deviantART, Elftown, English, baby!, eHarmony, Google+,, Goodwizz, Goodreads, GetGlue, Gaia Online, GamerDNA,, Orkut, Open Diary, Odnoklassniki, Makeoutclub, Meetup, Multiply,, Matchmaker,, MOG, Mubi, Mixi, Myspace, MyHeritage, MyLife, My Opera, myYearbook, Netlog, Ning, Nexopia, NGO Post,, Wakoopa, Wattpad, WAYN, WeeWorld, Wellwer, WeOurFamily,, weRead,, Wooxie, Xanga, XING, Zooppa, Zoosk,  Zorpia, Vkontake, and, of course,

Intended to protect privacy, a California employer may not require employees or job applicants to:

•  Disclose a username or password for the purpose of accessing personal social media;

•  Access personal social media in the presence of the employer; or

•  with the exceptions below, to divulge any personal social media

New Labor Code 980 does permit an employer to request personal social media information if that information is thought to be relevant to an investigation of an employee’s misconduct or suspected illegal activity and the employee’s social media account is used only for purposes of the investigation.

Employers may also require employees disclose usernames, passwords or other access information to employer-issued electronic devices such as computers, phones, or tablets.

California businesses should thus closely review their workplace personnel management practices and social media policies to ensure they are consistent with the above rules.

Please contact our firm’s attorneys Tim Bowles or Cindy Bamforth for more information or discussion on employee privacy, particularly personal social media in the workplace.

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