CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill under consideration would give employees in West Virginia more protection when it comes their passwords for things like Facebook.
Jefferson County Delegate Stephen Skinner is sponsoring HB2966 that’s already passed the House of Delegates but ran into some questions Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Del. Skinner told committee members more employers, upset over what’s been posted on social media, are trying to get the passwords of some of their workers.
“What we’ve started to see in some places, especially amongst sort of hourly workers, is a manager hearing that something being posted on Facebook that slandered them and they’ll say, ‘Give me your password so I can get into your Facebook account,’” Skinner said.
The bill under consideration “prohibits employers from requesting or requiring an employee or job applicant to disclose a user name, password or other means for accessing their personal account or service.”
Sen. Sam Cann, D-Harrison, was skeptical about the need for the bill when he questioned Del. Skinner.
“How many times has this occurred?” Cann asked.
Skinner said he’s heard of a case in the eastern panhandle.
West Virginia is an at-will state when it comes to the hiring and firing of workers. There are some exceptions and the bill, which creates the Internet Privacy Protection Act, would add the password protection.
Sen. Cann told Skinner employers can come up with other ways to fire workers if they don’t like what they put on Facebook.
“So are we really helping anybody?” Cann questioned.
“I think we’re going to be helping a lot of people,” Skinner maintained.
The delegate told the committee creation of the act wouldn’t change employer rights when it comes to overseeing work computers and how employees use those computers.
“We want to make sure the employer has absolute control in the workplace. It’s the out of workplace when it blends in,” Skinner said.