Today, we’re going to continue the topic of Workplace privacy, and focus on what an employer can and cannot do. Basically, private employers can monitor employee, their performance and their behavior in the workplace.
Additionally, employers are able to conduct searches for preventing illegal or inappropriate behavior though it is highly advised, employers first seek legal or human resources input regarding searches so consent is established. Usually this would fall in the employee handbook, and is agreed upon by the newly hired employee when they sign those agreements. This is why you want to actually read the employee handbook when first hiring into a new company.
Video surveillance is also lawful in the workplace or on company property. Though an employer should be careful not to engage in out of work or off property surveillance. While there are instances this is acceptable, that being monitoring an employee in public places, for example insurance fraud cases, the employee does have a reasonable expectation of privacy at home.
Now, this brings up the biggest issue when addressing workplace privacy, and that’s regarding the monitoring of conversations and telephone calls. If consent has not been given by the employee, employers are prohibited from monitoring conversations, that is bugging you or listening into your conversations. This falls under the Federal wiretap Act. Now if monitoring for business purposes, such as listening into a sales call, that’s acceptable and part of that employees duties.
This is why you often get that automated message when you call into a customer service center saying, “this call may be monitored or recorded”. By you staying on the line and engaging in that conversation, you are giving that call center, permission, that is consent they can record you.