Employees should always be careful about what social media content they make available online.
Taking effect on July 1, 2015, newly enacted Virginia § 40.1-28.7:5 protects an employee from an employer who requests, either as a condition of hiring or continued employment, that the employee disclose a personal username and password for a private social media account. This serves to prevent employers from accessing private content, but, significantly, it does not prevent an employer from making decisions based on publicly available content. The law also does not apply to an employee's business accounts; only to personal, password-protected social media accounts and content.
The new law does not afford employees significantly greater substantive protections than under the prior state of the law, but is nonetheless a step in the right direction towards recognizing that employees have a privacy right in social media content and that they should not have to relinquish that right as a condition of their employment.