Kansas bill to prohibit employers from asking job seekers for social media information

Topeka, Kan. - Two Kansas legislators want to prohibit employers from seeking social media information from job applicants.

Democratic lawmakers Rep. Gail Finney and Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau are working on a bill that would help job seekers keep their Facebook and Twitter accounts private.

Previous reports from the Associated Press revealed employers in at least five states were asking job candidates for their usernames and passwords so interviewers could browse their profiles prior to making a hire.

Finney says seeking that information is an invasion of privacy and should be illegal.

"The information that (employers) would be obtaining from a Facebook or a Twitter account is very similar to what the federal government said is illegal to ask someone," Finney said.

Finney said many users include their sexual orientation, religious preference and political views on their profiles.

"On a federal level, that would be illegal to ask for," Finney explained.

She said employers can search for people just like any other account holder, and users can activate whatever privacy settings they prefer. But asking employees or job candidates to provide usernames and/or passwords crosses the line.

Social media consultant Alex Greenwood said social websites are becoming a quick and easy way for employers to keep tabs on workers or weed out applicants.

"A lot of employers are looking for any reason they can to disqualify an applicant in favor of someone else, and if you have a pretty crazy thing pop up on social media, then that may be the thing that knocks you out of consideration," Greenwood said.

A hearing on the bill has not yet been scheduled, but Finney said she is hopeful the hearing will be complete by the end of the current legislative session.

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