The issue of e mail privacy in the workplace

By Barrie Gross In: Laurier says Quebec residents can be terminated for engaging in any online activity that might diminish the reputation of their employer, ranging from offensive social media posts, even on personal accounts, to the misuse of company assets, including e-mail addresses.

It's likely a sure bet that many who weren't surveyed don't either, because most don't have to by law. Think twice about bad-mouthing your employer on blogging and social networking sites. Laurier said she has witnessed a sharp increase in Quebec case law over the past five years related to misuse of employer tools such as e-mail addresses, computers and smartphones, a situation she said is at least partly the fault of employers who fail to clearly define appropriate use.

The information is expected to be kept confidential between the company and the employee. Medical information about an employee must be kept separate from other employee records and access to it is severely restricted. There are extensive anti-eavesdropping laws that prohibit tapping into or listening to telephone conversations, voicemail systems, and electronic communications systems.

However, the law regarding email usage is sometimes confusing, and many companies lack a clear policy regarding how employees can and can't use email in the workplace.

Human resources and legal professionals can help identify the laws that apply to you, and help you draft policies that meet your specific business needs. Also, if an employee makes statements or promises using company email, the recipient may consider that anything the employee says represents the company's views, and that anything promised is binding.

So it is important that managers and supervisors have a basic understanding of a few of the more frequent privacy rights and issues that can arise, as well as the boundaries that may apply.

Meanwhile, employees may challenge their lack of workplace privacy rights through lawsuits. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business.

For example, some states have civil and criminal statutes that require both parties to a telephone conversation to consent to being recorded or listened to, while other states require that only one party consent.

Ethical issues and e-mail accounts in the workplace

Despite the absence of employee privacy rights laws and the dismal lacking of those that do exist, employers don't always have the right to violate fundamental American privacy values. Even in the few that do, such as the examples listed to your right, the laws have no "teeth". In a couple of similar workplace privacy lawsuits won by employees, employers claimed " drugs " as the reason they secretly videotaped employees in company locker rooms; but, instead of revealing illegal drug use or sales, the hidden cameras embarrassingly exposed employees changing their clothing.

For one thing, employees may challenge such firings in the courts. There are several areas of human capital management in which privacy rights are established.

The Impact of Email in the Workplace

Employees are sometimes so overwhelmed with catching up on email, they neglect other critical job duties. For example, using workplace computers to send large files could slow down the company's network.

For example, California has labor code sections that make it illegal for employers to prohibit employees from discussing or disclosing their wages or working conditions, or to take action against them for doing so.

As you can see, employers need to be well versed in a multitude of federal and state laws regarding privacy.These Constitutional privacy protections ensure against intrusive government action—not the workplace demands of private sector employers.

While loyal workers may occasionally confuse their employer with a sovereign head of state, a small business boss is not the leader of the free world. Employers monitor e-mail, Internet access, stored documents, and virtually everything else you say and do on your office computer, even if the information is personal.

Even our home computers are increasingly subject to monitoring. Apr 08,  · Employers are frequently using monitoring software to make their employees more productive at work, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, part of a series about the "Tougher Workplace.".

Although the Constitution speaks of a "reasonable" expectation of privacy, this is largely not applicable at private employers.

E-Mail Privacy in the Workplace

Email at Work for Employers On the flip side, employers have a host of issues to be concerned about regarding email and email privacy. At a very basic level, employees are supposed to be working, and monitoring email at work is one way to ensure that employees are using work email appropriately.

Many workplaces rely on email to help employees stay connected and to communicate with clients. However, the law regarding email usage is sometimes confusing, and many companies lack a clear policy regarding how employees can and can't use email in the workplace.

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.

Basic Privacy Issues in the Workplace

Technology has enabled employers to monitor virtually all workplace communications made by employees using computers -- including use of the Internet and company e-mail.

The issue of e mail privacy in the workplace
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