California law actually prevents employers from requiring access to an employee’s social media as a condition of employment. California Labor Code section 980 very specifically limits an employer’s access – except where (1) access is required for an employer-issued device, or (2) an employer reasonably believes the employee’s social media to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or violation of employment-related laws and regulations. Under the law, “social media” includes an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages, e-mail, online services or accounts, or Internet website profiles or locations.
At this time, there is no administrative enforcement of the law, though. In other words, the Labor Commissioner is not required to investigate or determine if employers violate Labor Code section 980. Employees, however, can still use violations as the basis for lawsuits against employers in the event of terminations or other adverse employment actions, particularly where employers discipline employees for social media posts which discuss salary or working conditions. Tread carefully when using social media posts to make employment decisions, and consult an attorney before taking any adverse action based on an employee’s social media posts.