Airline Asks Flight Attendant for Access to Facebook, Bank Accounts


Air New Zealand airliner in flight


Should employers have access to the social media accounts of their employees? With so many workers having been fired over their social media activity, most employees probably would not want to have to disclose the contents of their tweets and Facebook chats. But fired Air New Zealand flight attendant Gina Kensington has been told by her employer that the only way that she can get her job back is if she first reveals her Facebook password to the airline, reports Television New Zealand, and also gives it access to banking information.

Back in March, Kensington was let go by the airline after it accused her of lying about needing to take two days of sick leave, which she said she needed to care for her ailing sister. When the airline asked to see her social media activity, she refused, and took her case to the country's Employment Relations Authority, claiming wrongful termination. She's now hoping to get her job back. The ERA has yet to issue a final ruling, but the government body already has ruled in favor of the airline, saying Kensington would have to make available both her social media and bank accounts to have a chance at getting her job back. New Zealand legal experts are speaking out against the decision, meanwhile, calling it "intrusive."

In siding with Air New Zealand, the agency said in a statement that Kensington's social media activity would be "substantially helpful." The government-sponsored TV network reported an ERA member, Tania Tetitaha, as saying "The explanation for taking sick leave must be tested for veracity."

Reports have not mentioned what raised suspicions over Kensington's actions. Lawyers for both Air New Zealand and Kensington have said that their clients are not speaking to the media about the ongoing case.

Legal commentators, however, are expressing concern about the case's potential to establish a "worrying precedent" for workers, reports ABC, Australia's public broadcaster. New Zealand employment lawyer Andrew Scott-Howman told Television New Zealand that the decision "feels intrusive and just, frankly, wrong."


More: 1 In 10 Young Job Hunters Rejected Because Of Their Social Media


Thomas Beagle, the co-founder of the civil liberties advocacy group, Tech Liberty NZ, told ABC that his country is "seeing a switching of the balance of power from employees to employers." The ERA's move, he said, is "going to greatly hearten the employers who want to snoop on their employees about what they're doing in their own time."

According to Television New Zealand, the ERA has a history of upholding employers' snooping on their workers social media accounts. More novel, according to Scott-Howman, is the request to access bank account information.

Workers worldwide have begun pushing back on such requests. And as AOL Jobs has reported, some states in the U.S. have banned employers from demanding access to workers' social media accounts. The first state to pass such a measure was Maryland. The law, which took effect in 2012, says that it is:

"Prohibiting an employer from requesting or requiring that an employee or applicant disclose any user name, password, or other means for accessing a personal account or service through specified electronic communications devices; prohibiting an employer from taking, or threatening to take, specified disciplinary actions for an employee's refusal to disclose specified password and related information; prohibiting an employee from downloading specified information or data; etc."


Similar legislation has been proposed in 30 other U.S. states, with California, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey already having passed laws similar to Maryland's. None, however, may go far as the Garden State. It bans employers from even asking if their workers use social media networks.

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b4dewey

Tell em to call NSA if they want to know! Social media, banking info is all electronically transmitted so NSA can get it for them, it might cost a little more then getting the password from you but then they can write it off as a business expense. Pay me 24/7 and you can control what I do 24/7.

August 17 2013 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Fortunato

Just try turning that around and making the CEO publicly disclose all of their personal information to make sure they're acting in the best interest of the company and see what happens. This is an abuse of power and violation of her right to privacy, they're not paying her during off hours so what she does in her own personal time is her business. She works for an airline, she's not running for Prime Minister.

August 15 2013 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
reathea

I see so many things wrong with this whole situation. First, had the employee earned those sick days? If so, no company has a right to even ask what you did on those sick days. You owe them nothing. Secondly, requesting password information and bank account information is outrageously ludicrous. I would not divulge that information to my own children, (grown adults) let alone my employer. That is none of their business and is a total intrusion on my private information. Hope she wins her case and gets her job back, or wins enough money to not have to work.

August 14 2013 at 9:02 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rkeeeballs

Just one more GREAT reason why I don't do social media.......nope....never gonna have a facebook or nothing of the sort !....nope......NEVER !

August 14 2013 at 8:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elroy Jetson

What would they have done in the days before facebook.? Honestly, why should your employer or the government have free access to all your data?

August 14 2013 at 7:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dn2erth4u

God forbid an employee gets two days pay she doesn't deserve from a company. I don't know about y'all but I've been robbed blind and abused (legally) by companies I've worked for. It's two days pay .... they should let it go.

August 14 2013 at 7:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daddy

She is better off not working for that POS airline

August 14 2013 at 7:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
julski9

why ask her about her personnel information....check with N S A

August 14 2013 at 6:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
julski9

why ask her for facebook pages....ask N S A

August 14 2013 at 6:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sherry

My question is why would they need her bank account info? That has absollutely nothing to do with her taking a sick day. They should not be allowed to have her facebook password nor bank info. That is taking things a little too far. It's bad enough that our government is hacking into our info, now we have to worry about employers getting the governments blessing to do the same.

August 14 2013 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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