Electronic Surveillance of Employees
Law Ethics and Corporate Governance
Electronic Surveillance of Employees
1. Explain where an employee can reasonably expect to have privacy in the workplace.
From the time an employee reaches his work place or is on a sales call he is typically on either company property or he may be on property owned by a customer of his company. So that employee is now utilizing company time- which he is being paid for, equipment and supplies. Taking this into consideration, a reasonable interference is expected from the company. The only place an employee should reasonably expect to have privacy in the workplace is in restrooms or in facilities provided ...view middle of the document...
A reasonable employee should also expect that video surveillance may also be used to monitor company property and employee actions. Also for employees in warehouse, assembly line, or other factory type setting, should reasonably expect to be monitored to detect employee theft which is so common, to monitor efficiency, and even to document on-job accidents which can be of benefit to them. But if there has been misuse of the company property then the Surveillance monitoring may be used against employees as grounds for termination. In the Smyth v. Pillsbury (1996) the court found that the “company’s interest in preventing inappropriate and unprofessional comments or even illegal activity over its email system outweigh any privacy interest the employee may have in those comments.” Though there is no comprehensive, Uniform legal standard protecting an employee’s privacy rights, but they are automatically granted and protected by specific labor laws, regulations and certain rules especially when it comes to employment.
2. In the office workplace there are typically two types of workspaces, an open area, in which there are several desks and where conversations can be overhead, or an enclosed office, in which—when the door is closed—conversations cannot be heard and where one would expect virtually total privacy. Explain whether it makes a difference if an employee is in an open area or in an enclosed office.
In this ever developing world of innovations and technology the companies are striving hard to keep up with the changing scenario and are forced to utilize the resources for monitoring thus having a thin line / grey area as far a “ open “ and “ enclosed” work space is concerned. With so many things happening around us and with so much information the concept of privacy is getting very minimal.
Normally in open areas there is less privacy than enclosed office, anyone can hear or see everything happening around. Related to this in an open area having a private conversation with someone is not a bright idea. Because of nature of environment defending that” it was private conversation” does not work in court. It does not distinguish if an employee is in an open area or in an enclosed office. The behaviors of every employee can be monitored at all times in the work premises. The terms “Open” and “enclosed” only contribute to the perception of control. It is only a matter of being monitored in an open area with minimal business activity versus in the actual workspace. Open areas should be allowed privacy as it is an employee escape area. Having said that, the company poses a right to monitor the interactions and behaviors in either of the work areas. The major distinguishing factor will be to see the open area as a venting area for employees; as due to the stress, frustration and work pressure the comments are harmless. They need not necessarily convert into violent actions. It is used just to get back to a better state of mind. The open...