ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Job seekers’ passwords off-limits; liquor hours shift
SANTA FE – Starting Friday, New Mexico law will prohibit employers from ordering job applicants to turn over their user names or passwords for social media accounts.
The new law, which also bars colleges from requesting the social media passwords of prospective students, is one of 132 bills passed during this year’s 60-day legislative session that will take effect Friday.
Expanding the legal hours for Sunday alcohol sales at bars and restaurants and requiring public meeting agendas to be posted 72 hours – up from 24 hours – in advance are among the other signed measures that will become law.
The social media statute will make New Mexico the latest in a string of states that have enacted similar restrictions in recent years.
Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, who sponsored the legislation, said he became interested in the issue partly because of a chat he had with an a job seeker who had been asked to turn over her social media passwords during an interview.
Candelaria, 26, the youngest member of the Legislature, said his familiarity with social media came in handy during legislative debate on the measure.
“The basic idea is to ensure the privacy protections we’ve come to expect … keep up with the 21st century reality we live in,” Candelaria told the Journal .
He said the new law will protect employers as well as potential employees by limiting their exposure to personal information – such as religion and sexual orientation – that could be posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
However, the bill did not spell out penalties for violating the law, meaning job seekers who believe an employer has violated the law will have to file a lawsuit in state court.
In addition, the social media law exempts federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, due to the sensitive nature of those jobs. It also does not prohibit employers from monitoring employees’ use of social media sites.
Since the start of 2012, a total of 13 states – including New Mexico – have enacted laws dealing with protecting the social media passwords of job seekers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A client alert sent out in April by the global law firm Proskauer noted that, unlike similar laws enacted in other states, the fledgling New Mexico social media law does not address whether employers can ask for the passwords of current employees.
Other laws that will take effect Friday include:
⋄ Several pieces of a massive tax package sought by Gov. Susana Martinez, including a provision that will expand the state’s film tax rebate for qualifying TV shows from 25 percent to 30 percent.
• A measure aimed at luring aerospace companies to southern New Mexico’s Spaceport America by exempting spacecraft parts suppliers from certain kinds of lawsuits by passengers.
• More money to test racehorses for illegal substances, as part of an effort to crack down on horse doping.
• The Fair Pay for Women Act, which bars employers of four or more people from discriminating, based on sex, in the wages they pay.
Most of the other 96 bills passed during this year’s 60-day session and signed into law take effect July 1, the start of the state’s budget year.