Is Employer Monitoring of Employee E-Mail Justified?

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Employee privacy has been a debate for the centuries. In the past it was how an employee conducted themselves away from the workplace because they were representatives of the company. Today in our technological world, it is all about e-mails, social networking sites, internet, voicemail, etc. Is it justified for employers to have these forms of communication monitored? Chauncey M. DePree, Jr. and Rebecca K. Jude in their article, “Who’s Reading Your Office E-mail? Is that Legal?” argue that employer’s do have the right to monitor employee’s e-mail. On the other hand a USA Today article “E-monitoring of Workers Sparks Concerns” brings up the ethical concerns of this type of monitoring. This paper will summarize both perspectives and offer an opinion on the debate.

It is not illegal for companies to monitor their employees’ workplace computer usage. The American Management Association (AMA) conducts a survey each year on electronic monitoring and surveillance. The latest results from 2007 that polled 304 companies are: •68% of employers monitor Internet connections

65% use software to block connections to inappropriate websites •43% monitor e-mail in which 73% use technology to automatically monitor e-mail and 40% assign an individual to manually read and review e-mail o96% of these employers track external (incoming and outgoing messages) oOnly 58% monitor internal messages

28% of employers who have fired workers for e-mail misuse cite the following reasons: oViolation of any company policy (64%)
oInappropriate or offensive language (62%)
oExcessive personal use (26%)
oBreach of confidentiality rules (22%)
oOther (12%)
71% of employers alert employees to e-mail monitoring (AMA/ePolicy Institute 2007 Electronic Monotoring & Surveillance Survey) DePree and Jude endorse employee e-mail monitoring for various reasons. First, it is legal. “As a general rule, when an employee enters the workplace, an employer may monitor and record...
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