The information age has unveiled technologies that enable speedy transmission of information and unprecedented access. Technology advancement and sophistication has been great and has resulted in the emergence of important issue due to technology and workplace privacy interaction. It has become critical for employers evaluation to determine if interests sought to be protected and balanced accordingly regarding the rights and privacy of employees.
Privacy in the workplace is considered a multi-dimensional issue. There exist three major areas that can potentially trigger legal procedures concerning the right of employees to privacy in their work environment. These areas include surveillance or monitoring of employees and electronic communication, security and privacy of personal data and background check and employee health testing (Craver, 2006).
The availability of sophisticated technology and high-tech devices has made it possible for employers to conduct employee monitoring (Martin, 2009). The monitoring activities have been directed towards phones calls, emails, social media pages, computers files and other work-related activities. There exist electronic records of emails and voicemail messages, and personnel can review these with access, and deleted emails can be retrieved.
Another aspect is data interception remotely, and activities can be monitored through a remote command center. It is right to say that legitimacy of employers to monitor activities of their employees might be sustained. The advancement of new sophisticated technologies has equipped employers with the capabilities and resources to conduct monitoring activities in the workplace (Martin, 2009). However, the use of this technology for monitoring activities can result in potential liabilities for the employers due to infringement of employee privacy. As a result, there have been laws such as National Labor Relation Act, the Federal Wiretapping Act, and the Stored Communication Act among others to in protection of employee rights.
Also, there are background checks and employee health testing. Despite the legitimate reason for employees to monitor employees, using such a method can result in legal issues due to disclosure of protected medical information and personal facts (Craver, 2006). It is discriminatory to conduct investigated in areas that have been deemed protected. Such areas include credit checks or checking details that are not related to the job position.
Lastly, there is security and protection of personal details. In the United States, identity theft has become a phenomenon, and the breach of personal information have negatively impacted a lot of people. Employers possess an inherent need to collect employee's personal information for various reasons such as background checks, benefits, and verifications purposes among others (Martin, 2009). However, such application is subject to legislation such as Identity Theft Legislation and Washington's Fair Credit Reporting Act among others.
In countering the emergence of privacy issues in the workplace, there is exist employment law whose function is to outline the rights and obligations concerning the employer-employment relationship. The complexity brought by the employer-employee relationships has resulted in the need for employment laws involving legal issues (Craver, 2006). The privacy issue has led to concerns such as discrimination, wrongful employment termination, and workplace safety among others.
In my opinion, monitoring, activities and testing actions toward employees and applicants can result into litigations carrying substantial economic implications. Employees need to be aware of promises by the employers concerning workplace privacy issues and note that the manner in which they are communicated determine their legitimacy. Policies concerning privacy issues can be communicated through the use if employee handbooks, workplace memos, and union contracts. For instance, when an employer has a policy of notifying employees when their telephone or email monitoring, such a policy must be honored. Employees have the responsibility of familiarizing themselves with the workplace privacy policies since it is always good to be informed. However, it is important to note that the law allows some types of monitoring despite the fact that some employees may feel it is a violation of privacy. Employers and employees need to be informed on employment laws concerning privacy in the workplace.
Craver, C. (2006). Privacy Issues Affecting Employers, Employees, and Labor Organizations. Scholarship.law.gwu.edu. Retrieved 29 October 2017, from http://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1519&context=faculty_publications
Martin, S. (2009). Workplace Privacy Issues: Practical Advice for Employers and Employees. Retrieved 29 October 2017, from http://apps.americanbar.org/labor/errcomm/newsletter/09/fall/pdf/martin-susan.pdf
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