Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Toosmart12
Words 3154
Pages 13

Controversy surrounding workplace monitoring and surveillance has intensified with the rapid digitization of the workplace. The ways in which we work, communicate and share information have forever changed. Employers are playing constant “catch up” with new technologies that are utilized on a broad scale long before policies are created to manage their impacts.
Privacy issues often arise in connection with employer efforts to locate, hire and evaluate the most qualified and reliable employees. Improvements in technology, such as the rapid rise of the use of electronic mail and the increasing use of surveillance cameras, often force otherwise reluctant employers to readdress the balance between employees' privacy concerns and perceived business needs.
In fact, nearly 67% of all companies currently use some type of surveillance in the workplace. According to a recent poll, “. . . over 66% percent of those surveyed had used the Internet from work in the past 24 hours.” (M.Lee Smith Publishers, Hospitality Workforce Trends, January 2000) In addition, when issues in his or her personal life impact an employee’s work, the employer must make judgments as to the appropriate level of involvement. Lastly, as traffic on the “information superhighway” continues to explode a number of substantive questions about the use and abuse of these information networks arises. What are the ramifications for employees’ right to privacy in the workplace? Does an employer have the right to search an employee’s computer files or review the employee’s electronic mail (“E-mail”)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using surveillance at the workplace?
As you will read in detail later in this chapter, the laws governing electronic surveillance have largely favored employers, both in the private and public sectors. There is minimal legislation…...

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