The workplace can be a tricky environment to navigate, especially when it comes to understanding your rights as an employee. Employers often track internet, email, and phone use, so employees do not have an expectation of privacy in the workplace, but employee privacy rights are protected in the workplace.
What are Employee Privacy Rights?
“Employee privacy rights” refer to the degree of protection offered to workers from their employers. Unfortunately, there is not much protection for employees from their employer when it comes to searching company computers and property. This means that employers are usually within their legal rights to search a computer or other company property for any reason they deem fit.
As such, any emails you send on a company computer can be read by your employer if they choose to do so. Generally speaking, employees do not have an expectation of privacy while using company-owned equipment or devices.
How Employers Track Employees’ Usage?
Employers may track internet usage through monitoring software programs. These programs will look at all data that passes through a network—including websites visited and emails sent—so employers can see what their employees are doing with company technology during work hours. They may also track employee phone calls and emails by making recordings of them for quality assurance purposes, or looking through emails sent from work accounts for any suspicious activity. Some companies may even install GPS tracking on company vehicles so they can monitor their drivers’ whereabouts during work hours.
Employees’ Rights in the Workplace
Despite these methods of monitoring employed by employers, there are still certain rights afforded to workers in most workplaces including the right to be free from harassment and discrimination, the right to be free of toxic substances and dangerous conditions, and the right to be free from punishment for making a complaint or filing a claim against their employer or co-worker(s). Besides these protections, there are certain other areas where employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like the bathroom. Employees have a right to use the restroom without being monitored or observed by their employer or coworkers. This expectation of privacy is based on both legal and ethical considerations. From a legal standpoint, employers are required to provide safe and sanitary restroom facilities for their employees, which includes protecting their privacy while using these facilities.
Employers may install security cameras in certain areas of the workplace for safety and security reasons, but these cameras should not be placed in restrooms or other areas where employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy, like personal belongings. Even if a backpack or purse is brought to work, an employer cannot search these items without a valid reason or the employee’s consent.
The Philadelphia Employment Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Your Rights in the Workplace
If you think your workplace rights have been violated, speak with the Philadelphia employment attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Contact us at 215-574-0600 or inquire online to schedule a consultation. With offices in Philadelphia, we proudly serve our neighbors in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.