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Employee Privacy Rights In The Workplace

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Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace

Axia College

COM 120 Effective Persuasive Writing

Gregory Menke

April 8, 2007

With today’s technology there is no such thing as employee privacy rights in a workplace. There are many way an employer can track an employees every move. For example, did you know your employer can see how often you are on the internet?

Sophisticated software give employer’s the ability to read your email, listen to your voicemail and monitor your Internet usage. Although you may delete your email or voicemail that does not mean your employer can not retrieve them. Employers also have the ability to see what is on your computer screen while sitting at their very own desk.

It is understandable that employers must do everything in their power to protect their investments. In doing so, prior to offering a candidate the position a background check, drug screening and some times a credit check is completed. After all of this is finalized and results are in, the position is offered to that qualifying individual. Does that individual have any employee privacy rights once they become an employee of the company? An employee’s private, social life should not be a factor when their career is involved. Once that individual has passed all of the company’s necessary screening the employer should not have the chance or need to do anything else. Especially when it may cause a risk in loosing a great employee.

Employers are known to use many types of employee monitoring. The most common monitoring are computer monitoring, electronic mail and voice mail monitoring as well as phone usage monitoring. Computer usage is one of the biggest as well as most popular types of monitoring. No matter what you are doing on the computer, rather business or personal, your employer will know. While your supervisor is sitting at his or her desk, and by the click of a mouse, everything on your screen will show on your supervisor’s screen. You may be doing some data entry, browsing the Internet or checking your email. What ever it is you are doing your supervisor is seeing. “Employers are monitoring the computer use of employees by tracking the use of Internet and screening the contents of email” (Tabuk and Smith, 2005, p. 173). When employees send email to one another using the company’s email, does the employer need to take some sort of action or is this an invasion of privacy? For example, an email was sent to me by a co-worker. It was once of those typical emails with jokes to brighten your day. Not knowing there was such a thing as electronic mail monitoring I passed it on to a few of my other co-workers. Little did I know it was retrieved by our Information Services Department then given to my supervisor? My supervisor then informed me I was being given a verbal warning and if it should happen again, it could be a cause of termination due to unlawful use of my email. But then again I was not aware of this possibility. Especially when we are given an Employee Handbook on our first day of employment and there is nothing in there about the “proper” use of email. Per Janice C. Sipior and Burke T. Ward, monitoring electronic mail is legally an invasion of privacy (Sipior and Ward, 1995). Another popular employer monitoring is phone usage. It is understandable as you do not want employees to be making or receiving numerous personal phone calls during work hours. You especially do not want



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