Law Effective June 10, 2016

Under a new law in West Virginia, effective June 10, 2016, employers are generally prohibited from:

  • Requesting, requiring, or coercing an employee (or a potential employee) to disclose a username and password, password, or any other authentication information that allows access to the employee’s (or potential employee’s) personal account;
  • Requesting, requiring, or coercing an employee (or a potential employee) to access the employee’s (or the potential employee’s) personal account in the presence of the employer; or
  • Compelling an employee (or a potential employee) to add the employer or an employment agency to his or her list of contactsthat enable the contacts to access a personal account.

Under the law, “personal account” means an account, service, or profile on a social networking website that is used by an employee (or a potential employee) exclusively for personal communicationsunrelated to any business purposes of the employer.

Among other things, the law does not prevent an employer from:

  • Accessing information about an employee (or a potential employee) that is publicly available;
  • Requiring an employee to disclose a username or password or similar authentication information for the purpose of accessing:
    • An employer-issued electronic device; or
    • An account or service provided by the employer, obtained by virtue of the employee’s employment relationship with the employer, or used for the employer’s business purposes;
  • Complying with applicable laws, rules, or regulations; or
  • Conducting an investigation or requiring an employee to cooperate in an investigation.
    • Note: The employer may require an employee to share the content that has been reported to make a factual determination, if the employer has specific information about an unauthorized transfer of the employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data, to an employee’s personal account.

Employers are encouraged to read the text of the law for additional details.


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