Have you ever wondered what rights to privacy you actually have at your job? Employers want to make sure their employees are being productive and useful, but when does it cross the line? As an employee, you don’t want your every trip to the bathroom logged in a book, but you should certainly understand the usefulness of some monitoring. While you may not agree with everything your employer does, it benefits you to know what they are and are not allowed to do concerning your privacy in the workplace.
What is Your Right to Privacy?
According to California Constitution, Article 1, section 1, every citizen of the state has an “inalienable right” to pursue and obtain “privacy.” While this sounds agreeable to most, the right to privacy is not always a ‘black and white’ issue in the workplace.
Government vs Private Employees
Much of your privacy rights depend on the nature of your employment. If you are a government employee, you are protected by the United States Constitution, which prohibits any level of government from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. This means government employees can legally expect privacy, unless the employer has reasonable grounds for suspecting some wrongdoing. Private sector employees have significantly fewer safeguards in place. Most of these employees have no protection against reasonable monitoring. For government and private employees alike, there is one right protected by federal law. That is the right to make a private phone call. If an employer knows that a call is private and intercepts or monitors it, he or she is in violation of federal law.
Workplace Privacy in California
Here are a few examples of what is and is not permitted concerning workplace privacy in California:
- Employers are permitted to use computer software and keystroke monitoring to keep track of the amount of time an employee uses a computer and what they are looking at, storing, or searching.
- Employers own all e-mail systems operated at a company and are allowed to review all of its content, if deemed necessary.
- In most cases, employers may legally monitor your usage of employer-provided devices, including smartphones.
- Courts usually tend to side with employee privacy when it comes to video camera surveillance in physically invasive situations like bathrooms or locker rooms.
The Law Offices of Mann & Elias
At Mann & Elias, we have provided the counties of Los Angles, Riverside, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and San Diego with high quality legal representation for more than 15 years. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.