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Surveillance On Employees

In our society, technology is advancing at a rapid pace. These advancements have stirred up a lot of controversy over electronic monitoring in the workplace, and exactly “how far is too far.” One emerging conflict is that if employee’s email, Internet, and other devices are being monitored for business, how can they be terminated for aspects of their email that are non-business related. Employers have made many termination decisions using electronic monitoring, including innocent non-business related situations. Another conflict that is brought up is how to maintain the company’s confidentiality of data with the employee’s rights to privacy. If an employee has certain rights that cannot be violated by law, how can the company ensure that their data will remain confidential? The Electronic Communications Privacy Act has barred many monitoring practices, but somehow employers still find loopholes that permit many monitoring circumstances. Exceptions under the ECPA permit employers to monitor business-related communications, monitor communications over which the employee has given consent, and access employee email messages stored by the employer.

So, what exactly are the limits of electronic monitoring? Laws very by state:

-Federal law does not prohibit employers from monitoring calls, as long as they are business related

- For employer-provided computers, there are many forms of monitoring employers can participate in. For example, they can look on an employee’s screen at any given time, review the keystrokes, track when the computer is being used and when it’s not, and lastly look at the history. Also, if emails are sent on a company provided email, it is the property of the employer and they can monitor it without consent of the employee.

-There is no federal protection for employees seeking to avoid giving their social media information to their employer. However, in certain states, legislation limits employer access to employee social media passwords in 6 states. As a result, in these states, employers cannot demand this information.

-Employers can use GPS to track an employee if it is on a employer provided vehicle.

- Video surveillance can be limited in that it cannot be placed in a locker room or bathroom. It cannot be a physical invasion of employee privacy. Federal law does not require employee consent or knowledge to use video surveillance.

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