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Can an employer require a prospective employee to reveal the password for her private email account?

Toms River, NJ |

My mother applied for a job at a local supermarket (Shoprite) and was asked, during the interview, for the password to her Gmail account. She was unwilling to give it to them and did not get the job.

Is this request legal?

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Attorney answers 3


This has been a topic in the news a great deal lately, and I believe that the answer is No it is not proper but not illegal. Here is a link to a new story on it.

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Thank you. I can *almost* understand the social networking sites (like facebook) - which my mom doesn't belong to anyway, but her PERSONAL email account? How can that not be illegal to ask for?


This area of the law is still being developed and there likely is no clear consensus at the present time as to whether an applicant for a potential job can sue for denial of a position for their failure to voluntarily provide a private email account.

Based on the bills that are being debated in the NJ Legislature, it is likely that the acts of the Shoprite will be considered illegal in the near future. Here is some information about this legal issue in the news:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently conditionally vetoed a bill that would have barred employers from asking current or prospective employees about the existence of any personal social media accounts. Governor Christie's proposed version of the bill also eliminates a private right of action for alleged violations, and includes a provision stating that employers may view or utilize information obtained in the public domain. Under the new version of the bill, employers would still be prohibited from requiring that prospective or current employees provide their log-in information to social media accounts. The New Jersey Assembly has approved the legislation with Governor Christie's edits, but the revised bill still needs to be passed by the New Jersey Senate. If the Senate approves the changes, the new law will become effective four months after being signed by Governor Christie.
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At this point, the company has done nothing unlawful, although that is certain to change as my colleague noted.

A response to a question posted on Avvo is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is informational only. Allan E. Richardson, Esq. Richardson, Galella & Austermuhl 142 Emerson ST., Woodbury, NJ 08096 856-579-7045.

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