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State Legislation

Several states and U. S. territories have enacted statutory provisions that prohibit employers from spying on employees who are exercising certain protected rights. They include Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, the Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin. Most of the prohibitions contained in these statutes closely mirror or expand upon the prohibitions contained in the NLRA. Specifically, the statutes regulate employer surveillance of workers who are engaging in union-related activities, and each statute permits employer surveillance that is done pursuant to clearly defined rules and in furtherance of legitimate business objectives.

A number of states have also enacted statutes that prohibit employers from disclosing certain personal information about employees gathered during the employment relationship. Minnesota, for example, forbids public employers from disclosing information contained in an employee’s personnel file. M.S.A. sections 13.01-13.99. Georgia makes it unlawful for employers to obtain certain criminal history information about an employee or prospective employee without that person’s consent. OCGA section 35-3-34(A). Alaska makes it unlawful for employers to require employees or job applicants take a polygraph examination. Alaska Stat. Section 23.10.037. However, no state prohibits an employer from requiring an employee or job applicant to undergo a psychological evaluation for the purpose of assessing the test-taker’s propensity for truthfulness or deceit.

Several states limit the right of healthcare providers to release medical information to a patient’s employer. For example, a Maryland statute generally requires the patient’s consent before healthcare providers can disclose medical information to employers. Md Health General Code Ann., section 4-305. Similar statutory restrictions in Maryland prohibit insurance carriers from disclosing medical information to an insured’s employer without the insured’s consent. Md. Ins. Code Ann., section 4-403.

Inside State Legislation