The laws governing what an employer can ask of an employee are set to change soon, but employees are still wise to be mindful of what they share on social media and how it may affect potential workers’ compensation claims.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed legislation that makes it illegal for an employer to require employees to provide it with password access to their social media accounts — a big win for employees throughout the state, for sure. However, these restrictions do not restrict an employer’s ability to monitor what it’s employees choose to post in social media, and could still lead to difficulties for those pursuing workers’ compensation claims.

It is a common practice for employers to scour the social media presences of their employees for any evidence of behavior that may invalidate a workers’ compensation claim. There are several ways that this can be accomplished. If an employee files a claim stating that they have been hurt on the job, the employer, even without password access to social media accounts, can peruse everything that the employee has made publicly available. The employer will be searching for evidence that the employee may have engaged in behavior that suggests the injury was suffered outside the workplace. Contrastingly, the employer may find what it considers evidence that the employee is not actually injured at all. In either case, even if the “evidence” is taken out of context or misrepresented by the employer, carelessly maintained social media presences may be used to invalidate legitimate workers’ compensation claims by unscrupulous employers.

It is commendable that the state of Illinois is siding with workers and protecting their rights to privacy, but this legislative win should not be an excuse for carelessness. Far too many legitimate workers’ compensation claims are dismissed or left under-compensated because an employee was not vigilant about the things they allowed to be shown in their social media. Those who believe they have a legitimate workers’ compensation claim will find that the representation of a qualified, experienced attorney can help ensure that their claim is heard fairly and their losses are compensated equitably.

Source: ilnews.org, “Employers can no longer ask for social media logins, but can still look online,” Aug. 11, 2016