New Colorado Law Curbs Employer Social Media Access

On May 11, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB 13-1046 into law, restricting employers from accessing social media accounts of employees and job applicants. The law is effective immediately and is applicable to private businesses and units of state and local governments, but not the Department of Corrections, county corrections departments, or state or local law enforcement. 

The new law prohibits employers from asking employees and applicants to disclose their login credentials, demanding changes in their privacy settings, or requiring them to add other employees as friends or contacts. Employers are also prohibited from discharging employees or refusing to hire applicants who exercise their social media privacy rights under this law. 

The law allows employers to conduct investigations to ensure compliance with securities and financial laws and regulations. It also creates an exception allowing employers to investigate allegations of unauthorized downloading of proprietary or financial information and violations of existing personnel policies.

Complaints can be filed with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). The CDLE has authority to investigate and issue fines up to $1,000 for first offenses and up to $5,000 for subsequent or repeated offenses.  

With this law, Colorado becomes the seventh state to restrict employer access to employee and applicant social media information, with more potentially on the way.