Though six U.S. states have made it illegal, many companies both in America and abroad have begun to demand access to their employees’ Facebook profiles. Sometimes they do it immediately at the interview stage and other times they do it to gather evidence against their employees. In the case of fired Air New Zealand cabin crew member Gina Kensington, the airline wanted access to her profile to prove she had misused her sick days.
Kensington, who said she took two sick days to look after her sister, was fired by the airline for unspecified reasons. She then went to the New Zealand Employment Relations Authority to get her job back, but the airline then demanded to have access to both her Facebook profile and bank account to either prove or disprove her story.
“I don’t really know that society has seen this sort of thing previously,” said New Zealand employment attorney Andrew Scott-Howman. “But at a time when we think we are behaving privately, or at least within a restricted circle of friends, we are actually effectively on trial… And the courts see Facebook as a wonderful asset because all of a sudden not only do we have the potential for pictures and so forth but . . . we can see what time statements were made and pictures were taken.”
As social media becomes more prevalent in society, it stands to reason to companies are only going to get pushier about demanding access to their employees’ profiles. However, it’s a step in the right direction that states like California, Delaware, Maryland and Michigan have already banned this creepy and invasive practice.