Employee Privacy Report
Andrea C. Barreno
March 27, 2011
Professor Jim Parkinson
Because emails can serve multiple functions, Dawley and Anthony determined email is used for multiple tasks such as circulating documents, requesting information and developing brief conversations at the users’ convenience in a 2003 study performed. With email serving both formal and informal purposes, misunderstanding to use it in the workplace occurs (Knox, 2006). Nowadays, employees think their rights are violated by this, but the truth is that according to Lawyers.com “the employer has the right to monitor employee use of its computers, files, telephones and other activities unless prohibited or restricted by law.”
Even though employees think that companies are not respecting their civil rights, sadly; if the company has a written policy that its computer systems are to be used only for work-related activities, it may reprimand or punish an employee who used its equipment for personal purposes, and e-mails are also considered to be company property, therefore, the company is not doing anything wrong because the company policy explains the rules. On the other hand, employees have a variety of rights in the workplace, through both federal and state law. Employers; however, also have rights and protections under the law. It is important for both of them to know their legal rights and the duties they owe to each other (Law Office of William M. Julien, P.A., 2009).
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) directly prohibits the interception of e-mail transmissions. The ECPA prohibits the interception by (1) unauthorized individuals or (2) individuals working for a government entity, acting without a proper warrant. The ECPA is concerned with the unauthorized access by employees or corporate competitors trying to discover valuable information from their systems. However, there is no specific prohibition in this act for an employer to monitor the e-mail of employees; the ECPA does not specifically exempt employers (The Lectric Law Library, 1995).
According to the Lectric Law Library, in the workplace, federal and state laws provide some protection to employee communications. However, this protection is limited. Until the law develops further, employers should prepare carefully drafted Policy Statements that explain how the employer intends to monitor employee communications. Even in the absence of such Policy Statements, employees will be informed to consider their communications is available and accessible to their employer. Also where privacy is an issue, employees and employers can create a more productive work environment if they work together to common...