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.
Author: Beth P. Zoller, JD, Legal Editor
In-depth review of the spectrum of North Carolina employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
The West Virginia-specific content for the Employee Discipline and Employee Privacy sections of the Employment Law Manual has been updated to include references to a recent West Virginia Supreme Court decision.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Maryland employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee privacy.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Nevada employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee privacy.
Employees may be successful in claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), a common way to boost the stakes in litigation, if employers intentionally invaded their privacy.
A recent US district court ruling against Verizon illustrates how important it is for employers that provide employees with electronic devices for both business and personal purposes to effectively manage employees' privacy expectations and adequately train supervisors.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Delaware employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee discipline.
As the result of a new Illinois law designating the homeless as a protected class for purposes of employment discrimination, a number of Employment Law Manual sections and a Quick Reference Chart have been updated.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Massachusetts employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to employee privacy.
Following a nationwide trend, New Jersey is now the 12th state to pass a social media privacy law (A2878). The new law, which takes effect on December 1, 2013, prohibits employers from requiring employees and job applicants to disclose their user names, passwords and other means of access to their accounts or profiles on social networking websites through electronic communications devices.
HR and legal considerations for employers regarding employee privacy. Privacy issue guidance on subjects such as social media and surveillance.