Workplace Privacy: Privacy Rights in the Workplace
Legal Aspects of Business I
Jack B. Hamlin, M.S., J.D.
October 23, 2011
Workplace Privacy: Is an employer issued search of employer issued property to their employees a violation of the employees’ Fourth Amendment right of freedom from unreasonable search and seizure?
This paper will examine the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to the case of City of Ontario v. Jeff Quon that has provided a significant change of the views on workplace privacy law in this country. The majority of U.S. employees believe that it is their constitutional right to have reasonable workplace privacy. However, most U.S. employees are unaware
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For that reason, it is common for people to feel comfortable with the idea of sending personal emails or making personal phone calls while on company time. They expect that they can communicate with other people freely without monitoring during working hours and on workplace equipment. Despite these expectations, however, most employees are not entitled to complete privacy in the workplace. Rules do differ between public sector and private sector jobs, however, and workers do have some responsibility in keeping the rights that they do have intact. Regardless of these expectations, or perhaps due to them, employees may be surprised to learn how little privacy they can expect in the workplace. Since electronic monitoring was introduced into the workplace in the twentieth century, employers now use monitoring to listening to telephone calls and computer monitoring, such as email and internet use. While this monitoring is now important to the safety and security of the employer, it can be very invading because of advancing technology creating a greater risk for employers whether purposely or inadvertently are discovering personal information about employees. The issue arises that if the employer is trying to protect employees’ privacy and also meet the needs that it needs to meet, to make sure that the company is running lawfully and efficiently, is the employer violating