Many employers decide to monitor their employees within their entire business or just specific workplace or office space. They could have many motivations to do this, but the main reason is usually so the company is aware of any illegal activity you might be involved with. The more that your employer knows, the less liable they will be in an event of a lawsuit or government agency investigation. However, many employees feel that certain types of monitoring are a violation of their privacy rights, but how can you know if the monitoring is actually illegal?
What Are My Privacy Rights and How Do I Know if They’re Being Violated?
Your employee rights allow you to take any legal action necessary against an employer you believe is discriminatory. Depending on the type of technological or social outlet, your privacy could be violated, but it’s important you know how.
– Email and internet usage: All activities that an employee is participating in on a company-owned computer system are fairly unprotected by personal privacy laws. Emails that are sent using the company’s computers or Internet are usually considered company property, so your employer does have the right to check your emails, so long as there is a legitimate business purpose. Your employer also has the right to track websites, block employees from specific websites, or limit your amount of time on a specific website.
– Phone calls and voicemails: In order to keep tabs on their employees, many employers will install electronic surveillance systems so they can monitor phone conversations and voice messages. However, the Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) actually limits your employer’s right to monitor personal phone calls (unless there is implied consent, and the law also protects an employee’s voice messages at work. )
– Drug testing: In the state of California, an employer can conduct drug tests on his or her employees so long as all employees are tested and no individuals are singled out. Random testing, especially if you have been an employee for quite some time, is controversial and is only upheld under certain conditions.
Keep in mind that any public information that is put online can be seen by anyone, including your employer, so it would not be violating your privacy rights if your employer checked your blog or social media accounts.