Aren't I Entitled to Workplace Privacy Rights?
If you think that your U.S. employee rights entitle you to workplace privacy, think again. In fact, if you're reading this at work, your employer likely is too!
That's because, according to workplace privacy studies, the odds are good that your employer is monitoring your Internet activities, including the Web pages you read, and messages you read and post in forums, blogs, and chat rooms.
Your employer might be spying on you in several other ways too, such as:
- Recording your office phone conversations
- Videotaping your every move throughout your workplace
- Searching through your office computer files
- Monitoring your office computer keystrokes
- Reading your incoming and outgoing email
- Tracking your location through your company cell phone, security badge or both
The American Management Association (AMA) conducted such a study, entitled the "2005 Electronic Monitoring & Surveillance Survey". Of the 526 employers that the AMA surveyed, most conduct some type of electronic surveillance on employees. For example, among surveilling employers surveyed:
- 76 percent monitor Website visits
- 55 percent monitor email messages
- 50 percent monitor computer files
Other estimates indicate that as many as 92 percent of employers deny employee workplace privacy rights through electronic surveillance of some sort. So, the odds are good that your employer is playing "Big Brother" in one way or another, even if you don't know it.
Your employer can get away with denying you workplace privacy, partly because your employer owns the phone on which you talk, the computer on which you work and the building in which you roam. But, it's more so because so-called "employee workplace privacy rights laws" are few and weak.
By default, the absence and lacking of employee workplace privacy rights laws make it legal for "Big Brother" to spy on you without your consent and maybe even without your knowledge. Worse, your employer may fire or otherwise discipline you for violating a company policy that denies you workplace privacy rights.
The state workplace privacy rights laws linked below are the few and weak mentioned above. Collectively, they require only that employers notify employees of electronic surveillance and refrain from surveilling employees while they're changing their clothes.
Representative Thomas Petri introduced Bill H.R.582 in 2005, to enact the Federal Employee Changing Room Privacy Act. At this writing, it has yet to pass. But, even if it does, it'll be weak too, at least as initially introduced by Petri. It will prohibit employers only from surveilling employees while changing their clothes.
But, at least the Act will force the nasty employers in all states to stop victimizing employees, by using legal workplace surveillance as a pitiful excuse for workplace voyeurism. Several employees have sued employers for exactly that reason and won.
Even though employee workplace privacy rights laws are few and weak, your other employee rights entitle you to challenge an employer's immoral invasion of your privacy, though a lawsuit. Consult a lawyer about that.
|Workplace Privacy offers general information only and is not intended as legal advice. Neither the author nor publisher are engaged in rendering legal services. Please see an attorney for legal advice. Because laws vary by state and are subject to change at both the state and Federal levels, neither the author nor publisher guarantees the accuracy of Workplace Privacy. Should you act based on this information, you do so at your sole risk. Neither the author nor publisher shall have any liability arising from your decision to act on this information.|