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Social Media and Social Networking
2014 Legislative Session: Running Updates

Each year, the Hawaii Employers Council provides its members with updates on labor and employment law bills that are being addressed by the legislature. One of those documents, the Legislative Digest, is actually currently available to the general public, and can be accessed here:  HEC Legislative Updates.

Some bills that are still alive as of the Second Lateral deadline address (1) the minimum wage, (2) payment of wages via direct deposit and pay cards, and (3) workers’ compensation drugs, fee schedule and settlements.

For the 2014 Legislative Session, the Legislative Digest is available for the following key deadlines:

  • Bills Introduced (available)
  • First Lateral (available)
  • First Crossover (available)
  • Second Lateral (available)
  • Second Crossover (available)
  • Sine Die (pending)
  • Veto Deadline (pending)

As more deadlines pass, I will update this blog entry to indicate when the most recent Legislative Digest is available.

Other updates, such as articles providing a detailed explanation of several of the significant measures and talking points on certain bills, however, are available only to HEC members.

 
2014 Legislative Forecast

The 2014 Legislative Session begins on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 and runs through May 1, 2014.  This year, the legislature will likely address several labor and employment law bills that could have a significant impact on companies doing business in Hawaii.  Some of those bills include those affecting the following areas of law:

  • Minimum Wage
  • Prevailing Wage Violations for Public Works Projects
  • Successor Employers and Employee Retention
  • Paycheck Withholding Requirements
  • Independent Medical Examinations for WC Cases
  • Social Media Privacy
  • Meal Breaks
  • Sick and Safe Leave
  • Organ Donor Leave
  • Family School Leave
  • Discrimination Against Unemployed Individuals
  • GET Increase

I recently conducted a webinar for HEC members discussing each of these bills and what they could mean for employers. During the webinar, I (a) discussed the proposed changes or additions to Hawaii’s laws and (b) shared my thoughts on the impact that each of these proposed bills could have on companies doing business in Hawaii.  (HEC members can contact me for a copy of the handouts.)

In addition, I was also recently interviewed by the Pacific Business News (“PBN”) on some of the bills we anticipate will be heard during the 2014 legislative session, and their write-up ended up being the cover story for today’s edition of the PBN.  In addition to discussing employment law bills, the PBN article also discussed bills related to other issues affecting Hawaii employers.  PBN subscribers can access the article here:  Major Business Issues Facing the State Legislature in 2014.

On a final note:  To anybody who goes to the Capitol during session, if you see me there (and I will be there often), please feel free to say “Hi.”  Oh, and Happy New Year everybody!

 
Flex Schedules and Telecommuting

A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed by Jenna Blakely from the Pacific Business News (“PBN”) on some of the legal issues employers should consider when allowing employees to work “flex time” or work from home.  The article was printed on PBN’s website this afternoon as part of their cover story on how employers and employees are dealing with work/life balance issues.  You can view the article on PBN’s website here:  The Legal Ramifications of Being a Flexible Employer.

Special thanks for Jenna for the interview and article.

 
Two (Out of Three) More States Enact Social Media Privacy Laws

Recently, two more states – Arkansas and Colorado – enacted some form of social media privacy law for the workplace, and both new laws have very similar restrictions.  First, the Arkansas social media law prohibits an employer from requiring, requesting, suggesting, or causing a current or prospective employee do any of the following:

  1. Disclose his or her username and password for a social media account;
  2. Add an employee, supervisor, or administrator to the list of contacts associated with his or her social media account (i.e. “friending”); or
  3. Change the privacy settings associated with his or her social media account.

Second, the Colorado social media law provides that an employer may not suggest, request, require, or cause an employee or applicant to do any of the following:

  1. Disclose any username, password, or other means for accessing the employee’s or applicant’s personal account or service through the employee’s or applicant’s personal electronic communications device;
  2. Add anyone, including the employer to the employee’s or applicant’s list of contacts associated with the social media account; or
  3. Change privacy settings associated with a social networking account.

You can view the Arkansas law here and the Colorado law here.

Conversely, in New Jersey, the legislature passed a social media law of its own, but the New Jersey Governor  conditionally vetoed the measure and sent it back to the legislature with recommended revisions.  You can review his veto message here.

Altogether, with two (out of these 3 states) passing social media workplace laws, we now have seven total states with such laws.

As I’ve stated before, these laws appear to address a problem that doesn’t even exist.  In other words, “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”…

Fortunately, during the 2013 legislative session, the Hawaii state legislature was wise enough to realize that this type of law is unnecessary, and the bills dealing with social media privacy in the workplace died.  (In all likelihood, however, we will see similar measures introduced and heard at the Hawaii legislature in the upcoming sessions.)

 
Social Media Privacy Amendment to CISPA Denied

Last Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (“CISPA.”)  Proponents of CISPA say it is a bill that increases the government’s ability to respond to cyber threats and cyber attacks by sharing private customer information between itself and companies.  Opponents of the bill argue that it is a serious violation of their right to privacy, and does not actually serve to combat cyber attacks.  Rather, they claim, the bill would allow the government to “spy” on American citizens.

A last minute amendment to CISPA was attempted by U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, that would have banned employers from requiring employees to share the login information for their social media accounts.  The House members rejected the proposed amendment by a vote of 224-189, and passed the bill without Rep. Perlmutter’s amendments.  The bill now has to be heard by the Senate.

On a related note, another bill that is pending before the U.S. House of Representatives is the Social Networking Online Protection Act (“SNOPA”), which also proposes to prohibit employers and certain other entities from requiring or requesting that employees and certain other individuals provide a user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account on any social networking website.  This same exact bill was introduced in 2012, but was not given much attention.  For this year, govtrack.us is giving this bill a 1% chance of making it out of committee, and a 0% chance of being enacted into law.

As noted in a prior blog post, seven states have already enacted such a law.  Hawaii heard similar bills during the current legislative session, including HB 713 HD2 SD1, but all of those bills are dead.

While we’re on the subject, some humor: