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2 Employee Laws Your Business Needs to Know


“Stay Away From My Password!”


A new Tennessee law, the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 (“the Act”), becomes effective in 2015 and prevents employers from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to divulge their personal account usernames and passwords. The Act includes a detailed list of actions employers are prohibited from taking, including:

1) demanding an employee or applicant to add the employer to the contacts list associated with the applicant’s or employee’s personal internet account;

2) compelling the employee or applicant to access the account so that the employer may examine the contents of the account;

3) taking adverse action against an employee or applicant because of failure to disclose personal internet account information.

Yet, as with almost all things, there are some circumstances that allow exceptions.  For example, an employer is not prohibited from requesting or requiring an employee to divulge the username or password to a device that is paid for by the employer, or from forcing an employee to cooperate in an investigation when the employer has specific information about an unauthorized transfer of the employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data to an employee’s personal internet account.

The Act provides a civil cause of action to any individual who is the subject of a violation of the Act.  Employers who violate the Act may be liable for up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) in damages for each violation against the individual, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs. 

Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation


In a recent 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Tennessee) indicated that precedent regarding regular attendance as an essential function of most jobs has become dated.  The Court wrote, “the world has changed since the foundational opinions regarding physical presence in the workplace were issued: teleconferencing technologies that most people could not have conceived of in the 1990s are now commonplace.”

In this EEOC suit brought on behalf of a former company manager with irritable bowel syndrome who was fired allegedly for poor performance after her request to telecommute was denied, the lower court ruled that the EEOC could not show that the proposed accommodation would allow the manager to carry out the essential functions of the job.  However, the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that technological means of attendance could allow the manager to perform her job from home without any undue hardship on the employer. 

So, advances in technology mean that telecommunication may be a reasonable accommodation for disability-related attendance issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act


Jeff Weintraub
Regional Managing Partner
Fisher & Phillips LLP
Posted: 6/25/2014 11:16:43 AM | with 0 comments




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