Employee Privacy – What Employers Can Monitor Under The Law
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Whenever a question about an employee’s right to privacy in the workplace arises, it’s best to start by analyzing the context.

It is important to classify the rights that may be at risk, as well as separating the kind of technology being used. While an employer’s policies may abolish an objective expectation of privacy, an employee may have a prejudiced expectation of privacy, based on the use of passwords, the isolation of information, or the corresponding of an electronic lockbox.

In a nutshell, different types of technologies may simply not be taken as private.

Can an employer spy on his employees? If given consent, would it be considered spying? Is an employer legally required to serve notice prior to monitoring employee phone and computer use? It all depends on who owns the financial records and equipment and what the employer’s policies entail.

Here’s a quick breakdown to help you understand better what employers can monitor under the law:

Employer Phones

Employers, in general, can monitor, listen to, and record employee phone calls on employer-owned phones and phone systems. This comprises of cell phones, voice mails and text messages provided to employees.

Personal Phones

Employers are not legally permitted to monitor or get hold of texts and voicemails from an employee’s personal cell phone. Nonetheless, if employees are spending plenty of their time at work talking about their weekend plans or any other private aspects, employers will have a good enough reason to claim it wasn’t private. This may lead to you being reprimanded.

Employer Computers

It is important to note that if the employer owns the computers and runs the network, then he/she is by and large entitled to monitor everything on the system, beyond emails.

Personal Accounts

This strictly depends on the situation as to whether the personal accounts are being used at work or on employer’s office equipment. However, the employer must not monitor the private emails of the employee’s private email account that is password-protected.

Nonetheless, employees must be very careful about using their personal accounts at work or on employer’s office equipment; the information often gets stored in the backups.

Surveillance Cameras and Video Monitoring

An employer is legally permitted to monitor his/her property with surveillance cameras, particularly in public areas. Nevertheless, some areas such as locker rooms, changing areas and restrooms are deemed private and are not subjected to monitoring. Moreover, private offices may or may not be secluded building upon the circumstances. There are some states - for instance - Connecticut that have precise laws regarding employers’ surveillance activities.

Do you feel that your privacy has been violated? Looking for an employment lawyer Orange County, CA? Choose a reliable employment law attorney, Hardin & Associates. Their team will have you covered for all kinds of employee lawsuits.


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