Heyl Royster

 


Heyl Royster

 

Recent Legislative Developments

1/11/13

Public Act 97-0875 (HB3782) – Facebook Bill

On August 1, 2012, Governor Quinn signed into law HB3782 (Public Act 97-0875), more commonly known as the "Facebook Bill," that amends and broadens the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act to include social media privacy concerns.

This new law makes it illegal for an employer to request an employee or job candidate's social network account information, such as username or password, in order to gain access to their account or profile. The clear intention of the Facebook Bill is to prevent employers from screening potential job candidates or reprimanding current employees based on information from their social network accounts that would otherwise be private.

While the major implications of the Facebook Bill are clear, there are still unanswered questions that may lead to problems for the imprudent employer. For instance, the new law is vague regarding whether employers can send "friend requests" to employees, or whether employers can request that an employee disclose information obtained from another employee's social media outlet. Until these questions can be answered, it is recommended that employers act with discretion and keep in mind the increased protected status of social media privacy in Illinois.

This law is effective January 1, 2013.

S. 743: Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012

Legislation introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka amends the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) of 1989. The WPA is a federal law that protects most federal executive branch employees who make a protected disclosure of illegality, waste, fraud, abuse, or public health or safety threats.

The legislation expands the scope of protections for whistleblowers by defining "disclosure" and expands the types of protected disclosures. It also requires that employers include certain statements in government nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements that federal employees have the right to make "protected disclosures."

The legislation adds the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Reconnaissance Office to the following list of agencies already excluded from protection: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Defense Intelligence Agency. The law requires federal agencies to inform employees how to make a disclosure of information that is required to be kept secret in the interest of national defense.

The legislation also makes certain amendments to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 regarding the development of policies and procedures.

The standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings would be revised to require the Office of Special Counsel to show that the whistleblower's protected disclosure was a "significant motivating factor" in the decision to take an adverse action, even if other factors also motivated the decision.

The president signed this legislation on November 27, 2012.