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Can an employer demand a prospective worker’s social media passwords?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2020 | Workplace Discrimination |

Many readers of this blog post might reasonably have a quick and strongly adverse reaction when they contemplate its above-posed headline query.

Wrong is wrong, and such an employer demand of a would-be hire going through the application process seems, well, deeply off base.

Isn’t such a thing taboo and even flatly illegal?

Surprise answer for some: No, it’s not. We note on our website at the established Sterling Employment Law legal offices in Bloomfield Hills that “the practice continues unabated” despite threats of legal action. In fact, “no state or federal law explicitly prevents potential employers from asking for Facebook [or other social platform] passwords.”

So, where does that leave a job applicant who duly wants to impress a hiring manager yet balks at releasing information he or she has always regarded as private? What responsive strategy might make sense, especially in a current hiring environment where many companies are even soliciting personal information from their on-board employees?

That question cannot be readily answered with any certainty. Notably, both employers and prospective and actual employees have legitimate concerns regarding requested social media data.

On the one hand, it could alert a company to an individual’s negative workplace traits or even unlawful conduct. On the other hand, release could open up the door for an employer to be negatively influenced by an individual’s online presence and make unlawful hiring decisions based upon it (e.g., a no-hire determination based on race, age or national origin).

Questions or concerns regarding an employer’s request for social media data can be addressed to attorneys at a proven employment law firm.


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