May 16, 2012
Privacy: “WE” Don’t Deserve It!
Employers want to be sure their employees are doing a good job. In order to do so, some measures have to be taken to ensure that employees are spending their time wisely at the employer’s expense. Innovative tools make it possible for employers to screen many facets of their employees' jobs, specifically on telephones, computer workstations, through e-mail and voicemail, and when employees are using the Internet. Such monitoring is hardly unregulated. Therefore, employer should be entitled to any form of monitoring (within the law) in the workplace. Many companies have invested time in monitoring employees’ telephone, computer, and email usage in order to determine if their job is being done in an orderly manner. First, Telephone monitoring is one of the primary solutions to monitor employee activity while on the job. One of the biggest questions with privacy deals with whether or not employers can listen to phone calls made at work. Yes. For example, when dealing with clients, most employers use monitoring simply for quality assurance. If an employee is going into the job knowing what’s expected, they should have no problem with their phone being monitored as long as they are notified beforehand. Assuring phone conversations between employees and clients go as smoothly as possible benefit not only the client and employer, but the employees as well. Without extensive monitoring, employees may slack off or not provide proper customer service. If they are aware that their call is being recorded and monitored, the employer can be confident in the fact that their clientele are being taken care of with the utmost respect. Not only does this make sure the company is properly represented, but protects the employee from customer harassment and complaints. Telephone monitoring protects all parties involved. The only exception is when employees make personal calls in the workplace. In 1983, Circuit Judge Edward S. Smith declared in the case of Watkins v. L.M Berry & Co. that the monitoring of the business phone during a personal call made by an employee was unethical and against the law. In this case, the employers made it clear that phone calls will be monitored to determine whether a call is personal or business related then take proper action. Obviously, Berry & Co. infringed on federal law with unauthorized wiretapping. (Watkins v. L.M. Berry & Co., 704 F.2d 577, 583 (11th Cir. 1983)) Secondly, computer monitoring allows the employer to make sure that tasks are being handled in an orderly fashion. Just because someone sets up shop at the same terminal for 15 years does not mean it is their computer or their time to break. Employers are allowed to see everything that goes on at that workstation via computer software allowing employers access to the entire terminal. By doing this, not only does the employee stay on track but the employer has an opportunity to make sure that work is being done efficiently and correctly. According to Frederic Lardnois, reporter to ReadWriteWeb.com, employers use these programs to “make sure that employees don’t leak sensitive information on social networks or engage in any behavior that could damage a company’s reputation.” Furthermore, since employers cannot be everywhere at all times, it is convenient to both parties when the employer “takes over” the computer and solve issues from their office without wasting time. Computer monitoring provides yet another way to safeguard themselves in the event of a necessary discharge of an employee due to their lack of work during paid hours. With all the distractions on the internet these days, it is virtually impossible for an employee to faithful work every hour without big brother watching their every keystroke. Internet entertainment such as Facebook, Netflix, Reddit, and many others can make even the most attentive employee fall off...
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