Workplace Privacy Lawyers

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Most Common Employment Law Issues:

Can My Employer Randomly Search Employees as We Leave Work for the Day?

The answer depends on what your employer's policies are, and what the employer's reason is for searching employees.  If something very expensive has gone missing, and your employer has a written policy in place warning employees that they may be searched, then it may be legal.  However, your employer still would be required to search employees in a reasonable way.  For example, searching purses, briefcases, and backpacks, but not bodies.  If your employer is simply conducting searches as a daily routine, they may be overstepping their bounds.

Can My Employer Install Cameras in the Workplace?

The answer here also depends on your employer's intentions.  The main issues are where the employer wants to put the cameras and why.  Your employer must have a reasonable, legitimate business reason for wanting to monitor his employees by camera, such as for security reasons or to prevent theft.  Some states have made certain areas of the workplace off-limits to cameras, such as restrooms.

The most important thing to know about cameras in your workplace is that your employer is required to let you know that they are there.

Can My Employer Fire Me Because of My Personal Beliefs?

Maybe.  Federal and state law protect employees from being discriminated against due to their religious or political beliefs.  However, your employer does have a right to terminate you if you bring your beliefs into the workplace in a disruptive way.

Can My Employer Require Me to Take a Psychological Test Before Promoting Me to Management?

Psychological tests given by employers are questionable and often too invasive.  If you feel that your employer does not have a good reason for wanting to give you the test, or if the questions made you uneasy, then you may have a justifiable claim that your employer is violating your right to privacy.

Can My Employer Test Me for Drugs?

Employee drug testing is very common in the private sector, and private employers generally have more leeway in their testing policies than government employers. Private employers are usually allowed to drug test so long as the procedure is not particularly intrusive or demeaning.

Usually, they are not required to obtain consent from employees to test, and employees are subject to sanctions if they refuse a lawful request for a drug test. Many courts do require some form of notice or warning that a drug test may be required during the course of employment. While drug testing is allowed in many situations, and required by the federal government under the Drug-Free Workplace Act in some situations, employees do have some rights and expectations of privacy.

Can My Employer Read My E-Mail?

Generally yes, your employer can read your e-mail.  Much will depend on your employer's computer policies.  If the policy is that company computers are to be used for business purposes only, then your employer has a right to monitor your e-mail to make sure no personal emails are being sent. However, if your employer has policies that lead employees to think that their e-mail communications are private, then your employer's rights may be more limited.  To be on the safe side, conduct all of your internet communications, including e-mail and instant messenger, as if your employer is monitoring your actions.

Can My Employer Review My Internet and Search History?

Yes.  Employers may monitor the sites an employee has been visiting, and may even install software into an employee's computer to prevent the employee from looking at certain sites or limiting the time an employee can spend on any sites.

Can My Employer Fire Me For What I Post Online?

Yes. Generally speaking, an at-will employee may be terminated for any reason that the employer sees fit, so long as that reason is not discriminatory in nature and doesn’t violate any federal or state laws. This includes firing an employee who has posted or blogged something negative about their company, a supervisor, or even a fellow co-worker. Employment laws generally don’t prevent a private employer from firing an employee due to a "rant", inappropriate posts, etc. This is especially true if the post is posted in a manner that is viewable to the general public.

However, labor union laws do protect employees who are engaged in "concerted activity," so some instances of social media may also be protected. However, these types of cases are somewhat rare and may involve complex legal concepts and definitions.

Can Employers Demand My Personal Usernames and Passwords?

It depends on your state’s laws. Since 2012, state lawmakers have introduced or are introducing legislation to prevent employers from demanding the username and passwords for your personal accounts. Currently, twenty-one states have enacted these laws.

Do I Need an Employment Lawyer to Help Me to Deal With Workplace Privacy Issues?

If you believe that you have been inappropriately searched, videotaped, terminated based on your beliefs or electronic communications, or that your privacy in general has been violated in the workplace, you should consider speaking with an employment lawyer.  An attorney will be familiar with the state and federal laws that apply to your personal employment situation and will be able to advise you of your legal rights and options.

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Last Modified: 01-20-2016 11:07 AM PST

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