Employee Privacy Report


Employers are consistently having difficulty with employees using the Internet and e-mail for their own personal use. Monitoring employee Internet and e-mail usage is definitely a concern for employers and “doing so will help maintain the company’s professional reputation and image, maintain employee productivity, prevent and discourage sexual or other illegal workplace harassment, prevent “cyber stalking” by employees, prevent possible defamation liability and prevent employee disclosure of trade secrets and other confidential information.” (Duke Law, 2001) Some companies go overboard, installing equipment in employees’ chairs serving as a “wiggle monitor”. This monitor is used to see how much the employee “wiggles” because this supposedly suggests that they are being less productive when they “wiggle” too much.
Currently there is no Federal “employee workplace privacy rights law” that will universally prohibit an employer from monitoring an employee. This means that employees and employers need to know exactly what the laws are in their own state, or what their company policy is. Most employers have a written policy that warns employees that messages sent on any company equipment are not private. Such policies allow employers to not only monitor their Internet usage and e-mail, but any sort of communication that is used with any company equipment including telephone and fax machines. Employers have the right to do so because they own the equipment the employee is using.
There have been lawsuits filed from employees claiming that their employers were in violation of their constitutional right to privacy. A great example is a case that 2 defendants filed against Nissan. This case was filed in 1993 when e-mail was not common knowledge, and employees needed training. A trainer for this department was conducting a lesson and in efforts to provide an example opened a random e-mail sent from the plaintiff to another Nissan employee, which was of personal,...