Proving Privacy Violations in the Workplace

From Page 2: Privacy Rights and Medical Exams

If you want to prove your privacy was violated in the workplace, filing a suit against your employer is probably the best route. In the courts, each case will be uniquely assessed for two important items, which are the amount of reasonable expectation to privacy an employee has and whether or not the reasons for the privacy violation of the employer was justifiable. Depending on what your past company policies were, the amount of warning employees were given about monitoring, and just plain common sense are all factors to look at in invasion of privacy cases in the workplace. Certain actions, however, for almost any reasoning are deemed violations of privacy in the workplace, if the information was obtained by:

  • Intrusions on your private, home life
  • Breaking confidentiality agreements, whether express or implied
  • Secret, covert, and intrusive monitoring mediums
  • Deception or misrepresentation

Phone Monitoring by Employers

In most cases, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act federal law requires that one or more parties be aware that their phone calls are being monitored. In many cases, consent must be given by employees, which may be part of an initial employment contract. Additionally, employers must immediately stop monitoring a call if it is deemed personal in nature. However, in reality, employers have virtually free reign to monitor calls, and proving that violations occurred are relatively difficult.

Computer Monitoring by Employers

The internet usage monitoring part of the law is more unclear than any other regarding employment internet usage laws. Regarding emails, internet usage at work, computer files, and other chat mediums, employers can review these files if it is for a legitimate purpose. In many cases, nothing can stop employers from monitoring electronic communication, and within the working world, it is a common understanding that employers can and probably do actively monitor email and internet usage in the workplace. Most companies have specific internet usage policies that must be followed, it is a good idea to check with your employer about these possibilities before any issues may arise.

Search and Seizure in the Workplace

If an employer has probable cause, they most likely can search workers' personal belongings and private property, unless these items are kept in a place where employees can expect privacy. Additionally, the length, invasiveness, and scope of these searches depend on the impetus for the search in the first place. Typically, state and local laws better explain individual worker rights regarding search and seizure in their local area.

Dress Codes in the Workplace

Dress codes in the workplace widely vary according to the culture of each organization. In many cases, the only laws available on these matters regard equality for men and women concerning dress code and the process of making employees pay for their uniforms. Otherwise, the laws are generally vague and even vaguer regarding personal grooming disputes.

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