Overview: Employee privacy laws cover everything from the monitoring of employee communications including phone, email, internet and social media at work to the protection of employee records and confidential information. Considerations of employee privacy also impact employer monitoring of employee conduct as well as searching of personal and employer-provided property.
It is best practice for an employer to develop and implement policies that address privacy in the workplace and employee expectations. Employers should aim to strike a balance between monitoring the workplace and respecting employee rights. Employers should have a legitimate business reason for engaging in any conduct which impacts employee privacy rights. Further, it may be advisable to obtain employee consent where possible when engaging in any monitoring or surveillance.
Trends: Privacy is one of the hottest and most volatile subjects in the workplace today, and deservedly so. From employee social media use to the use of GPS devices to monitor employee conduct, the landscape of employee privacy is constantly changing based on new technologies and developments. Employers should also be aware that state and federal governments have shown a willingness to legislate a variety of topics ranging from protection of genetic information to wiretapping and social media to data protection.
Beth Zoller, J.D., Legal Editor
XpertHR has updated its content to reflect Colorado's recently enacted law protecting the social media privacy rights of both employees and applicants.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Colorado employment law requirements HR must follow in respect to employee privacy.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Minnesota employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee privacy.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Vermont employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
XpertHR's Maryland content has been updated in the Employee Privacy, Employee Handbooks - Work Rules - Employee Conduct, and Preemployment Screening and Testing sections to include a new law permitting the use of medical marijuana in the state, effective October 1.
A new Maryland law effective on October 1 that permits the use of marijuana for medical purposes may have an impact on workplace policies regarding employee drug use and testing.
Recent decisions from the full National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as well as an NLRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) highlight the fact that social media policies and employee communications remain on the agency's radar and that it continues to uphold the right of both union and non-union employees to engage in protected concerted activity over social media networks.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Texas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that even though medical marijuana use is legal in the state, employers may still terminate employees who fail a drug test due to off-duty use of medicinal marijuana. See Coats v. Dish Network, LLC, 2013 COA 62 (2013).
The Arkansas Employment Law Manual sections for Employee Privacy, Employment Offer and Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates have been updated to reflect a new law that limits employers' rights to employees' personal social media account information.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee privacy. Privacy issue guidance on subjects such as social media and surveillance.
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