Employee Privacy Rights
Can My Employer Read My E-mail?
Electronic information on private websites which are protected by private passwords, such as Facebook accounts or e-mails on Google, Yahoo or Hotmail, are restricted as long as the information isn’t on open display on the company computer.
Can My Employer Hide Cameras in the Office or Workplace?
An employer can install cameras in public workplace areas for security reasons or to discourage theft. In most states, however, employers cannot install cameras in private places such as bathrooms and changing rooms. Even with a legitimate business purpose for having cameras installed, employers must inform all employees that there are cameras present.
Can My Employer Randomly Search Employees?
Employers can sometimes search employees. There is no clear-cut answer to this, and if you feel your privacy rights have been violated by employer searches, you should speak with an employment lawyer.
Can My Employer Listen to My Voicemail or Phone Conversations?
What Can My Employer Ask About?
- Religious Beliefs: Generally, an employer cannot ask about religious beliefs since the Federal Civil Rights Act expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. However, if an employee’s religion greatly interferes with the operation of an employer’s business, then the employer may have sufficient grounds to act.
- Marital Status or Sexual Orientation: You don’t have to answer inquires about personal relationships. If both partners or spouses work for the same employer though, the employer might want to know to avoid conflicting supervision or other problems. Some states may have laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation.
- Outside Employment: Employers can inquire about other jobs you may have. If an employee works for a competitor or any other business which may interfere with the employer’s business he or she may be discharged.
- Involvement in Illegal Activities: In many instances, the answer is no. However, if the illegal activity interferes with or jeopardizes the employee’s ability to perform his or her job, then the employer has a right to perform an investigation and, if necessary, discharge the employee.
Can My Employer Conduct Drug and/or Alcohol Tests?
Private employers can establish their own drug policy so long as employees know what that drug policy is ahead of time, the policy is written down and the results of any tests remain private.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you feel as though your privacy rights have been violated in the workplace, you should speak with an employment lawyer. An employment attorney can help you understand how the law works and can represent you in court.
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Last Modified: 01-03-2014 10:42 AM PST
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