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What All Virginia Employers Should Know About Playing for “KEEPs”

June 24, 2013 SuAnne Bryant

Effective July 1, all Virginia employers must comply with a new law which limits those situations in which an employer may be required to disclose certain information to third parties about current and former employees. The law is titled  “Keeping Employees’ Emails and Phones (KEEP) Secure Act,”  and provides that employers cannot be “required to release, communicate, or distribute” to third parties personal identifying information (defined as home and mobile telephone numbers, email addresses, shift times and work schedules) about current or former employees, unless required by federal or state law, ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction, required pursuant to a warrant, or required by a subpoena or discovery in a civil case.   While KEEP is an apparent response to an NLRB representation election ruling, its application extends to all Virginia employers, regardless of union status.

Additionally, employers should be mindful that KEEP does not prohibit the disclosure of private employee data; it merely states employers cannot be “required” to release such information, unless the exceptions as stated in the statute apply (such as a court order or subpoena).  Employers still maintain the discretion to decide their internal policies regarding voluntary disclosure of employee data in circumstances not covered by the Act.  If you are concerned about the application of this law to your company, contact Davis Law Group or your legal counsel to ensure that your practices and policies comply with this new law.  Now may be a good time to consider revising employment policies concerning the confidentiality of personal data and work schedules, and access to personnel files, and similar policies commonly contained in employee handbooks and manuals.  Employers also should provide training to human resources professionals to ensure that they understand these new obligations.