Employee Privacy Rights: Just How Much Privacy Do They Have?

May 29, 2015 2:46 am
Did you know that our state’s constitution affords all of us, including your employees, numerous privacy rights? This right to privacy comes into play in many employment areas such as monitoring, recordings, personal smart phones, drug and alcohol testing, off-work activity, social media, medical examinations, health information and even how you file employee records.

Take employee’s smart phones as an example. A recent Supreme Court ruling, California v. Riley, sent an indirect warning to employers about searching an employee’s personal smart phone even if being used for company business. Exceptions to searching personal smart phones include a “strong legitimate business reason” or a search warrant. This recent case ruling highlighted the court’s view of the large amount of information stored on a smart phone (versus a purse, backpack or wallet) that reveals very personal, private information about an individual such as likes and dislikes through installed apps, calls, emails, texts, photos, videos, internet history, music and more.

How your employees spend their time off the clock (e.g. social affiliations, religious activities, family, and friendships) is their business. While it’s true that how they conduct themselves outside of work could reflect negatively on your business, employees have the right to engage in any lawful off-duty conduct.

Sierra HR Partners is available to answer any questions and assist in developing sound policies and practices that protect your business while respecting privacy rights.
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