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Advocacy Center for
Steven P. Cohn, Attorney
Your rights may have been violated. The Advocacy center can thoroughly evaluate your facts and offer sound advice and help you in your decision as to what to do. You have choices and the law empowers you if you get the right information.
Employees do not waive their right of privacy by having accepted a job; indeed, the right of privacy does not stop at the door to the employer. It is acknowledged, however, that some intrusion into privacy occurs simply by virtue of an individual having agreed to provide services during their work hours in an employment environment, thereby giving up the employee’s right to perform personal tasks while on the job.
The right of privacy is grounded in the federal and state constitutions and is additionally supported by court-made, or “common”, law. In addressing whether there has been an unreasonable invasion of the employee’s right of privacy, the courts focus on (1) whether there has been a reasonable expectation of privacy by the employee and (2) whether the employer’s conduct has been unreasonably intrusive. Some common areas of dispute have entailed employer eavesdropping, video surveillance of employees, and monitoring of computer use, including content. It is now well-established that employees do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when using company computers or internet servers, in recognition of the fact that most employers today have published a computer use policy prohibiting personal use and providing clear notice to employees that personal use is prohibited. Since this leaves only use associated with the job, an employer has an inherent right to monitor job performance. Similarly, close supervision, and even micromanagement of employees, is not prohibited; however, certain monitoring of employees may in fact exceed reasonable bounds, such as video monitoring in restrooms or changing areas.
Invasion of Privacy claims do not typically entail the loss of income, with the harm to the employee being general, or emotional in nature. The trespass to privacy claim entails the intrusion into the employee’s reasonable right to be left alone.
This right to be left alone may also involve the employer’s discipline, failure to promote or other misconduct based on conduct occurring away from the business premises. For instance, that an employee may vote for one candidate or another, associate with ex-employees or even employees of the competition may, if leading to an adverse employment action, constitute an invasion of the employee’s right of privacy. In one noteworthy case, an employee wife was fired because her ex-employee husband had left the company and gone to work for a competitor. The company feared “pillow talk” revealing trade secrets. Finding that there was a reasonable expectation of privacy and that the company had violated this, the employee received a significant jury verdict that was upheld on appeal.
If you feel that your privacy has been unreasonably invaded by the conduct of your employer, its management, or other staff (where the employer has failed to take action to remedy same), the Advocacy Center for Employment Law offers strong support and vigorous claims representation. Through an exhaustive study of legal precedent and the facts of your case, the Advocacy Center for Employment Law can provide strong direction and representation on a prompt basis to protect your rights and your livelihood.
The Advocacy Center for Employment Law provides strong representation, including the investigation of claims and assessment of damages, value and risk. Call for assistance today 408-557-0300.
Does your employer treat you differently based on your private time activities, relationships and/or associations?