Employer Request for Personal Internet Account Information in Utah

The majority of Utah’s working class has at least one personal internet account, and it isn’t uncommon for employers to use potential employee’s profiles as a way to get to know them prior to hiring.

Social Media and Job applications

Photo by: Kathryn Decker

Beginning in 2011 many companies were asking for the Facebook user name and password of potential hires. Other companies were requiring that a potential employee “friend” the company representative. A query on Facebook and Twitter are common for potential employees. The company is trying to hire the best candidates and the more information the company has the easier it is to get the best or at least get the candidate that will embarrass the company in the least. Unknown to many employers however, some intrusions into a current or potential employees personal life were later deemed an invasion of property, similar to asking for a key to a house or apartment just for “a look around”.


Personal internet account information


Photo by: Paul O’Rear

Utah Code 34-48-201 regarding the Internet Employment Privacy Act prohibits employers or potential employers from certain hiring behavior regarding personal internet accounts. It states that an “employer may not do any of the following:

1. Request an employee or an applicant for employment to disclose a username and password, or a password that allows access to the employee’s or applicant personal Internet account; or
2. Take adverse action, fail to hire, or otherwise penalize an employee or applicant for employment for failure to disclose [above described] information”.

Unfortunately, not all employers are well versed in current hiring laws which can be especially true of smaller companies. Other companies may know of the law but still request and have the mentality of only wanting employees that are willing to disclose everything to their employer.

Potential civil and action

Bosses are still allowed to request to be your friend on social media. If they request personal internet account information then they may run them the risk of a civil suit. Regardless of how promising a job may be, an employee does not need to allow their employers to access their personal Internet account. Employees should be warned that allowing an employer this access could lead to criminal action if a potential employer finds any incriminating conversations, pictures, or videos and shares the content with law enforcement. With that said, anyone who is facing legal trouble stemming from information pulled from their personal Internet account should consult with an attorney to decide whether or not any evidence obtained falls within the parameters of a lawful search and seizure.

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