Employee Privacy Report
August 7, 2010
Employee Privacy Report
The right to privacy is an inherent expectation of all citizens; however, the private citizen should not assume that he or she is afforded the same privacy protections at their place of employment. In fact, employees may find themselves more vulnerable. Other then the constitutional and legal requirements, employers have more latitude when it comes to delving into matters that some employees would otherwise consider personal and private. Therefore, it is important for employees to be aware of his or her privacy rights in the workplace, including policies regarding use of ...view middle of the document...
For example, an employer cannot conduct random drug testing without a reasonable suspicion that there is abuse on-the-job or for employees’ whose jobs are deemed to be safety-related.
If coworkers want to date, their employer cannot prohibit the relationship, unless it is a supervisor and his or her direct report. This exception is to protect the employee from potential harassment should the relationship go bad.
Email and Internet Use
The company makes their position very clear that the intent of the policy is to meet ethical, legal, and regulatory requirements. The policy explicitly states that any company assets are for business purposes only and that all messages and attachments written, sent, or received on the company’s electronic communication systems is the property of the company. Employees should also assume they have no personal rights of privacy or confidentiality.
Offensive or harassing use is prohibited and no sex sites may be accessed. Company assets should not be used for anything of a personal nature, either. The policy states all electronic transmissions are monitored and any violation of the policy will be strictly enforced.
The company does allow limited use of company assets for personal use such as emails to home, friends, school, the doctor, etc. or looking up travel information. Personal use though should not occur during chargeable work time.
Email and Internet Privacy Laws in the Workplace
Very few laws regulate workplace email and Internet privacy in favor of the employee. Instead, employers are empowered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. Its purpose is to protect interception of electronic messages by unauthorized individuals or government employees. However, it does not prohibit an employer from monitoring employee use because it recognizes that a business has the right to monitor and control its systems.
Purpose of Email and Internet Use Policies
The 2007 Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance Survey conducted by the American Management Association stated “Concern over litigation and the role electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and regulatory investigations has spurred more employers to monitor online activity. Data security and employee productivity concerns also motivate employers to monitor Web and email use and content” (Business Wire, 28 February, p. 1). The survey of 304 companies found the greatest concern to be Internet abuse with 66% monitoring Internet use. This is a justifiable concern given that 30% of employers who have terminated employees for Internet misuse said that 84% used the Internet to access or download inappropriate and offensive items, and 34% involved excessive use (Business Wire, 28 February).
Exposing company networks for unauthorized use increases a company’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks ranging from intentional malicious virus infections to hackers attempting to steal a company’s proprietary and financial data. These...