Staffing Management

Clearing Up Some Misconceptions on Social Media and Privacy

By Staff Report

Aug. 15, 2013

“Bosses force woman to show Facebook page to prove she's not lying,” reads this headline on the venerable technology website CNET. According to the article, the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority has required a fired flight attendant to provide her ex-employer with access to her Facebook page to prove, or disprove, the fact that her use of sick leave was legitimate.

What follows are three incorrect statements in an attempt to deconstruct this issue:

  1. “If such precedents continue to be set, everything that is digitally accessible may become evidence if an aggressive litigator decides that it might be useful.” In reality, the precedents are wildly inconsistent. Courts across the country are weighing the privacy rights of a litigant versus the relevance of the requested social media information. In this case, the judge favored the latter. A different judge could have reached a different result. One case, however, cannot be read as an indictment of the erosion of personal privacy rights.
  2. “Employers all over the world have begun to demand Facebook access to private accounts—some at the job interview stage.” This statement is not one of fact, but instead one of hyperbolic opinion. In reality, my research reveals that very few employers engage in this practice. Don’t just take my word for it. Also take the word of an Australian law firm that conducted a similar survey, with similar results.
  3. “Six U.S. states have now deemed it illegal for employers to do this.” In gross over-reaction to this issue, it’s sadly 11 states that have banned employers from requiring access to an employee’s social media account. Regardless, these laws do not prohibit a judge from providing access as part of the discovery process.

Employers are not requiring employees to turn over access to their personal social media pages. Court sometimes require litigants to turn over social media information when it might be helpful to prove or disprove a claim. End of story.


Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or You can also follow Jon on Twitter @jonhyman.


blog workforce

We build robust scheduling & attendance software for businesses with 500+ frontline workers. With custom BI reporting and demand-driven scheduling, we help our customers reduce labor spend and increase profitability across their business. It's as simple as that.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

HR Administration

Rest and lunch break laws in every US state

Summary Federal law does not require meal or rest breaks Some states have laws requiring meal and rest ...

workforce blog

Staffing Management

What is labor forecasting?

Summary Labor forecasting helps businesses determine where, when, what kind, and how many employees are...

demand forecasting, labor forecasting, labor modeling, staffing

workforce blog

Staffing Management

How staffing agencies can better manage a remote workforce

Summary As remote work continues its rise, modern workforce management technology is being adopted – st...

remote employees, scheduling, staffing, time and attendance management