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Importance of Employee Workplace Privacy and Technology

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Boundaries between work and personal life are often blurred. However, you should be aware of how important employee workplace privacy can be, especially when it comes to office technology. A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute showed that most people use their work e-mail for more than just business. However, when an employer decides to check your work e-mail, it shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise. reports that employers can have a policy or agreement where the employee waives any privacy right or expectation he or she may have in exchange for working for the employer. This type of policy can apply to work-related e-mail accounts or text messages sent from a company phone. But if a company has no explicit policy that e-mails or text messages will be monitored, then the employer does not usually have the right to monitor such forms of communication.

Houston employment lawyers have long questioned the issues of privacy in the workplace, but the Supreme Court case Ontario, Calif. v. Jeff Quon may soon clarify some of these privacy concerns. The case started in 2001 when Ontario Police Officers were issued alphanumeric pagers. One of the police officers used his employer-provided pager to send sexually explicit messages. After his messages were read to the public by a police chief, the police officer decided to sue the police department citing violation of privacy rights under the 4th Amendment.

In order to avoid legal trouble, it has become necessary for both employers and employees to understand a company's policy regarding private messages. Once a policy is in place, it should be explicitly communicated to all employees.

If you feel like you have had your privacy rights violated as a result of an unclear email/internet policy, it may be help to speak with a Houston employment lawyer.

Related Resources:

  • Email Internet Policy: Why Your Small Business Needs One (FindLaw's Free Enterprise Blog)
  • Supreme Court of U.S. to Rule on Text Message Privacy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life Blog)
  • Contact a Houston Employment Lawyer (FindLaw)

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