Tide turns for US employee privacy?
The issue of consumer privacy is getting more and more attention from media and people in general, as it rightly should. But what about employee privacy?
When it comes to the US workforce, the trend that allowed employers to practically monitor everything their employees do in their workplace, on their office or other company issued computers, or even on the employees’ social networking websites, may be coming to an end.
Information Law Group points out a few recent court decisions and argues that employers should be aware of them and take them in consideration when evaluating the various policies that affect employee privacy.
“A reasonable expectation of privacy” will become the key issue around which future disputes will arise. In the past, employees were better off assuming that they couldn’t have any, but maybe things are changing.
Employers – especially private ones – should begin to consider if they stated their communications policy clearly, comprehensively and unequivocally to all employees and definitely be aware of the changes in privacy laws as they happen.
Special attention should definitely be paid to rules regarding the use of private web-based e-mail accounts and that of mobile communication devices for private conversations or exchanges.
Also, they should consider if their decision to terminate an employee on account of his or hers comments regarding their workplace or management on social networking sites might be construed as a violation of an employee’s federal rights to discuss unionization and form unions.
Lastly, the rather common practice of using of credit reports for making hiring decisions or any decision affecting current employees might soon become more restricted, especially because the still ongoing economic downturn has ruined a lot of credit histories, and that fact has created a barrier to the ability to reenter the workforce for many individuals.