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Can employers ask job applicants for Facebook passwords?

More and more California employers are asking job applicants to provide their Facebook passwords as part of the hiring process. The rationale is to ensure prospective employees do not have a history of dangerous conduct or affiliations, such as gang affiliations. But is such a practice legal? While there are no laws that specifically prohibit an employer from requesting an applicant's social media log-in information, some legal experts say that the practice violates existing employment discrimination laws.Under both California and federal law, it is illegal to base hiring decisions on an applicant's protected class status. Accordingly, during the hiring process, employers must avoid making inquiries about things like an applicant's age, sexual orientation, marital status, and ethnicity. This information could reveal an applicant's protected class status and lead to claims of discrimination. Yet, this is precisely the kind of information that an employer could find on an applicant's Facebook profile.

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