Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill that would prohibit an employer from requiring a current or prospective employee to disclose their usernames, passwords, and related information about their personal social media accounts.
In his message, Christie said that while the bill, A2878, is well intentioned in wanting to protect employees and future workers “from overly aggressive invasions by employers,” he believes the bill is overly broad that could present the employers/interviewers with lawsuits.
“Those privacy concerns, however, must be balanced against an employer’s need to hire appropriate personnel, manage its operations, and safeguard its business assets and proprietary information,” Christie said. “Unfortunately, this bill paints with too broad a brush.”
He gave the example that, under this bill, an employer interviewing a candidate for a marketing job would be prohibited from asking about the candidate’s use of social networking so as to gauge the candidate’s technological skills and media savvy.
“Such a relevant and innocuous inquiry would, under this bill, subject an employer to protracted litigation, compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees — a result that could not have been the sponsors’ intent,” the governor said. “In view of the over-breadth of this well-intentioned bill, I return it with my recommendations that it be more properly balanced between protecting the privacy of employees and job candidates, while ensuring that employers may appropriately screen job candidates, manage their personnel, and protect their business assets and proprietary information.”
Christie recommened gutting the job candidate’s ability to file a civil lawsuit and replacing it with reporting the alleged violation to the Labor Department commissioner.