People have less privacy on the job than in their personal lives, but workers are sometimes entitled to a measure of privacy while at work. Below, readers can find answers to common questions about workplace privacy.
Can an Employer Search a Worker’s Office, Locker, Desk or Computer?
Employers can typically search a person’s workspace, as it technically belongs to them. This rule also applies to computers, and it can include searching files saved on the PC, as well as monitoring a worker’s web usage. Some jurisdictions have laws on workplace searches, and labor unions may have collective bargaining agreements with similar clauses. Employees should refer to state law, their employment contract, and to Connor Morneau & Olin, an Employee Law Attorney Northampton MA, for clarification.
Can an Employer Search a Worker’s Car?
If the car is a company vehicle, the employer can search it, but personal cars are usually off-limits. If an employer believes a worker has illegal or dangerous materials in their vehicle, they should notify authorities rather than undertake their own search.
Can Employers Read Workers’ Emails, Call Histories and Text Messages?
Employees have no expectation of privacy in workplace emails, and phone conversations can be monitored for quality assurance. Once the employer learns that the call is personal, however, monitoring is supposed to stop. Some jurisdictions require all involved parties to be notified if phone calls are to be monitored. With text messages, the Supreme Court ruled that a workplace search of personal messages on a company phone is reasonable.
Can an Employer Search Workers at Day’s End?
The answer depends on specific circumstances. If a theft has taken place or if a worker is in a high-security area, an employer may search workers if it’s non-invasive. Employers who do random searches without cause, or those who single out certain employees may be committing an illegal act.
Can Employers Drug Test Workers?
Some perceive drug testing to be invasive, especially if they don’t use drugs. However, employers sometimes have the ability to perform drug tests. Union contracts often include special provisions on testing, and many jurisdictions have laws that limit an employer’s right to drug test workers. Concerned employees should refer to their employment contract or call an employee law attorney in Northampton, MA for specific advice.