Employee Privacy Rights

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Most Common Employment Law Issues:

Can My Employer Read My E-mail?

Your employer may be able to read your e-mail, depending on your employer's policies regarding acceptable computer and e-mail use. Most courts will now side with employers on issues of e-mail and computer privacy, unless the employer has a specific computer privacy policy. 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. 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?

Employers are legally allowed to monitor business-related phone calls for quality control. However, employers are not allowed to monitor personal phone calls made by employees. With regard to voicemail, it is likely that employers are legally allowed to listen to voicemail messages. This is particularly true if the employer has a legitimate reason to do so. An employer may not be allowed to listen to voicemail, however, if there is a specific privacy policy dealing with voicemail.

What Can My Employer Ask About?

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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