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New York Labor Law Now Bars Employers from Displaying Employee Social Security Numbers and from Disclosing Employees’ Personal Identifying Information to the General Public

January 5, 2009

Effective January 3, 2009, the New York Labor Law has been amended by the addition of a new Section 203-d, which prohibits employers from doing the following, unless otherwise required by law:

·        publicly posting or displaying an employee’s social security number;

·        visibly printing a social security number on any identification badge or card, including any time card;

·        placing a social security number in files with unrestricted access;

·        using a social security number as an identification number for purposes of any occupational licensing; or

·        communicating an employee’s personal identifying information to the general public.

“Personal identifying information” is defined by the statute to include “social security number, home address or telephone number, personal electronic mail address, internet identification name or password, parent’s surname prior to marriage, or driver’s license number.”

Any employer that “knowingly violates” the statute is subject to a fine of up to $500 per violation.  A statutory violation shall be presumed to have been “knowing” if the employer has not put in place any policies or procedures to notify relevant employees of the statutory requirements.

In light of these new statutory mandates, New York employers must implement policies and procedures to safeguard employees’ social security numbers and personal identifying information, and must educate staff members who have access to such information regarding the statutory prohibition on the posting, display, or communication to the general public of such information.