Delaware is one step closer to legislating employers'
ability to manage their workforces. I testified yesterday about the significant
flaws in H.B. 308, called the "Workplace Privacy Act." The members of
the Telecommunications, Internet, and Technology Committee nodded along,
thanked me for my testimony, and then promptly voted to release the bill as is
to the House of Representatives. This, my friends, is why I chose the legal
profession over a career in politics.
As a result of the Committee's decision, the bill will
proceed to the House in its very defective state. I've posted at length about
some of the many, many concerns I have about the unintended consequences this
bill would have on employers and employees. But, after my experience at
Legislative Hall, I have just one additional thought to share.
It seems increasingly clear that the intention of the
bill's sponsors is far more expansive than simply preventing employers from
trying to get employees' and applicants' passwords. The intent, it seems to me,
is to undo the entire body of case law that has been developed regarding
privacy rights. In short, the sponsors are attempting to create a reasonable
expectation of privacy in online activities and comments. This is directly
opposite of what the law provides and would have tremendous implications on
employers in every industry and of every size.
One good thing to come out of today's hearing, though,
the increased awareness of the problems with this bill by the State Chamber of
Commerce and its members. Others present assured me that the bill's primary
sponsor, Rep. Darryl Scott (D-Dover), is a reasonable person and would likely
consider the issues that I raised before the bill goes to the House Floor.
Despite my optimistic nature, I am not holding out a whole lot of hope in this
I'll be sure to keep you up to date with any developments
over the next two weeks as we get closer to the next step in the legislative
process. Until then, though, Delaware residents should consider contacting
their state representative and expressing their concerns with the proposed law.
Don't hesitate to direct them to the summary I wrote in my prior posts and the
Comment Outline, which is linked in the second of the two posts. See Delaware
Proposes Facebook-Privacy Law; and Why
Delaware's Proposed Workplace Privacy Act Is All Wrong.
Read more Labor and Employment Law insights
from Margaret (Molly) DiBianca in the Delaware
Employment Law Blog.
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