Employee Privacy Rights
Can My Employer Read My E-mail?
However, most of this electronic probing is limited to company equipment and servers. Private laptops are usually off limits. 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. But 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. For example, if something was stolen recently, the employer may be allowed to search employees' belongings, but not their bodies. 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?
Can My Employer Ask About My Religious Beliefs?
In general no, especially 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. For example, professionals such as attorneys or doctors are expected to maintain client or patient confidentiality. If a secretary or another kind of employee breaks that trust, even for religious reasons, then the employer may be forced to act.
Can My Employer Ask About My Martial Status Or Sexual Orientation?
You don’t have to answer inquires about personal relationships, although polite conversation might involve asking 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.
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.
Can My Employer Inquire About Other Jobs I Have?
Yes, although having more than one job is perfectly legal. Employers may, however, discharge an employee if that employee is working for a competitor or any other business which may interfere with the employer’s business.
Can My Employer Inquire About Any Illegal Activities I May Be Involved In?
In many instances, the answer is no. However, if the activity in question would interfere with or even jeopardize the employee’s ability to perform his or her job, then the employer has a right to perform investigations and, if necessary, discharge the employee. An employer, for example, may conduct an inquiry of an accountant with an embezzlement charge.
Can My Employer Be Held Accountable If He Or She Is The Source Of an Identity Theft?
If the employer is directly involved with the identity theft, then the employer can be held legally accountable. Employees acting without the knowledge of the employer though, are a different story. Since identity theft is usually not part of a normal person’s job, employers cannot be vicariously liable for an employee’s abuse of sensitive information.
However, many states have passed regulations on businesses regarding the protection of private employee information. If an employer fails to follow those regulations and that negligence results in severe damage to an employee’s finances and reputation, then the employer can be held accountable.
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.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 07-06-2012 12:02 PM PDT
Did you find this article informative?