Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace

Topics: Employment, Privacy, Law Pages: 4 (1531 words) Published: October 24, 2005
Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace
Employee privacy rights have been the topic of great debate in recent years. This essay will examine: the definition of privacy, employers rights to access activities done in the workplace, to whom the resources such as time and equipment belong, and employee monitoring as an invasion of privacy or a performance evaluation tool. These are the core issues of the employee privacy rights controversy. Employee privacy rights should only be applicable to the personal activities that must take place during working hours. Activities occurring on company time are the property of the employer, and therefore, are not the private property of the employee. Employee privacy rights in the workplace should be minimal. The common law of the United States of America does not speak directly on employee privacy rights, rather to a tort based on the invasion of privacy. A tort is defined as a type of law that doesn't subject the transgressor to criminal penalty but allows the infringed party to seek compensation (MontanÞa, May/June 2005). The invasion of privacy tort is defined as: One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy, if the intrusion be highly offensive to a reasonable person. (MontanÞa May/June 2005, p.37) There are currently no federal laws protecting employees in the workplace outside of this tort (Canoni, Summer 2004). Privacy is defined as freedom from unauthorized intrusion. The courts permit the continuous monitoring of employees, even through video surveillance (Quinn, 2005). Information produced in the workplace, during work hours should never be viewed as personal. In recent court ruling, a majority of cases where found in favor of the employer due to the employee having no rights to the expectations of privacy (MontanÞa, May/June 2005). The professional responsibilities...
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