Employee privacy rights in the workplace

Client-centered service in a general civil practice, with an emphasis in employment law matters, trial and appellate work, and general business advice. Traditionally, under the common law employers have had wide discretion to set whatever conditions they desire concerning jobs and the workplace. After all, employer-employee law was once known as "master-servant" law.

Employee privacy rights in the workplace

Hedgehog Employee privacy issues have surged to the forefront of the business press in recent years, spurred on by changing workplace dynamics and a litigation-conscious business environment.

Employee privacy rights in the workplace

Observers say that advances in telecommunications—such as e-mail and the Internet—coupled with heightened concerns about vulnerability to litigation, have exacerbated management concerns about monitoring employee behavior.

Studies indicate that small business owners have increased their monitoring practices as well, and many experts expect that trend to continue in the near future. But analysts note that the close owner-employee interaction that typifies many small business enterprises often makes monitoring a more delicate issue than it might be in a larger, more impersonal environment.

By and large, employees leave their constitutional rights at Employee privacy rights in the workplace workplace door. A few state constitutions do extend speech and search protection to private-sector employees. If the answer is yes and the employer did not meet that expectation, then it may be held liable for invasion of privacy.

These expectations can be raised if the employee is given a key to a desk, or if the employer has disseminated a written policy explicitly stating that it will not make such inspections. But if these resources are knowingly made available for private employee use, then a reasonable expectation of privacy has been created and personal data placed and maintained on that equipment can be withheld from the employer.

Drug testing is a popular measure in many industries, and it is practiced by perhaps 70 percent of large American companies.

Interpersonal Communication

Small businesses, however, are less likely to embrace this technology because of expense, nature of business activity, and concerns about workforce reaction.

For example, Dana Hawkins noted in U. Personal behavior is no longer off-limits: Others ban off-the-clock smoking and drinking. Many companies regularly test for drugs. This latter element of company monitoring has been a particular sore spot for employees and civil liberties advocates alike.

They note that even if one were to set aside the ethical issues of such monitoring for the moment, errors in monitoring practice can have devastating repercussions on workers.

Employee privacy rights in the workplace

Nonetheless, factors such as increased litigation have pushed many companies into increasingly proactive investigations into the activities of current and prospective employees, both in and out of the office. Rising medical expenses also have encouraged many businesses to check into the medical history of prospective employees, especially if the business is one that self-insures.

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Noting that tests can now determine whether an individual carries the gene mutation for certain illnesses, which indicates a greater risk for contracting a particular disease, Minehan stated that a number of employee advocacy groups have expressed concern that this technology could be used by employers to discriminate against both potential and current workers.

Finally, amazing advances in computer and other technological capabilities have dramatically increased the abilities of employers to monitor the activities of those workers. As Kathy Compton stated in HRMagazine, technological advances have provided employers with the ability to access information on current and potential employees to an unprecedented degree.

But observers note that many companies are trying to strike a balance between self-protection and sensitivity to the feelings of their workers. This is particularly true in the small business world.

Observers note that small business environments typically feature working arrangements where owners operate in close proximity to their employees. Friendships often blossom in such cases, but the likelihood of developing close personal relationships with an employer or employee is severely curtailed if the company insists on maintaining policies that are regarded as intrusive.

Of course, many small businesses are family-owned businesses as well, another factor that can complicate employee monitoring efforts considerably. Some analysts would argue that family businesses that feel a need to implement monitoring strategies on family members within the business are already likely to be distressingly dysfunctional on several levels.

But even if friendships or family relations are not issues for a small business owner, he or she should still approach employee privacy issues with some care. Certainly, small business owners have every right to protect themselves and their businesses, and many of them encounter situations in which monitoring practices become a viable option.

But some analysts think that small business owners who practice active monitoring of employees run a greater risk of undercutting morale. After all, whereas employee monitoring has become a recognized reality in many sectors of the often impersonal "Fortune " world, it is viewed as a practice that is at odds with the atmosphere at many small business establishments.

The activities of employees in a small outdoor landscaping firm, for example, would probably be less likely to be monitored than those of employees in a small market research company or other firm that makes extensive use of computer technology. In addition, legal experts point out that small businesses that are found liable for excesses in this area are far more likely to be irrevocably crippled than are larger corporations with deeper pockets.

Finally, each business owner has to decide or his or her self how much privacy employees are entitled to on an ethical level. Writing in his essay "Discrimination and Privacy," Jack Mahoney argued that while companies naturally compose policies that are based on self-interest, they should recognize that "there are limits to the information a company is entitled to seek about its members in such areas as their personal lifestyle, sexual preferences, affiliations, use of alcohol, drugs, and so on.

What is at stake here is the psychic as well as physical privacy of individuals and the respecting and safeguarding of their personal autonomy and freedom.

This seems to imply that if a company wishes to acquire personal information about individual employees, then the burden of proof to justify such a wish is on the company. Decker emphasized the importance of communication in the successful application of privacy policies.

Communication assures knowledge, understanding, and consistent application of privacy procedures and policies. Laws, Policies, and Procedures. Employment Relations in the Post-Union Era.Employment is a relationship between two parties, usually based on a contract where work is paid for, where one party, which may be a corporation, for profit, not-for-profit organization, co-operative or other entity is the employer and the other is the employee.

Employees work in return for payment, which may be in the form of an hourly wage, by . An employee's right to privacy in the workplace is an increasingly controversial legal topic, especially in an age of increased reliance on computers and electronic mail to do business.

Technology has enabled employers to monitor virtually all workplace communications made by employees using computers -- including use of the Internet and company e-mail. Employee privacy issues have surged to the forefront of the business press in recent years, spurred on by changing workplace dynamics and a .

IntroductionComputer and Workstation MonitoringEmail MonitoringTelephone MonitoringMobile DevicesAudio and Video MonitoringGPS TrackingPostal Mail. 4. Does workplace smoking violate health and safety laws like OSHA, which regulates exposure to hazardous substances?

OSHA, short for the Occupational Safety and Health Act, gives you, as an employee, the right to have a safe and hazard-free workplace. Employee Monitoring is the act of employers surveying employee activity through different surveillance methods.

Organizations engage in employee monitoring for different reasons such as to track performance, to avoid legal liability, to protect trade secrets, and to address other security schwenkreis.com practice may impact employee satisfaction due to its impact on the privacy .

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