Employee Privacy Rights

Employee Privacy Rights at Work

In California, employers who violate their employee’s rights to privacy can be held legally accountable. However, privacy in an employment relationship is complicated because it is expected that an employers will, to some extent, monitor the behavior and work of their employees. A workplace privacy violation occurs when an employer violates an employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy, which is a standard composed of community and social norms.

If you believe your privacy has been violated at work and are looking for an employment lawyer, reach out to Navruz Avloni for a free consultation.

Schedule A Consultation

There are a number of areas where privacy violations commonly come up in the workplace.

Monitoring Computer Activity: Generally, employers do have the right to monitor the use of company computers by company employees, including employee emails, computer files, and internet usage. Employers may not monitor employee computer activity that occurs on an employee’s private computer.

Video Monitoring: An employer can only use video monitoring if they have disclosed that they are using video, and they must disclose the extent and duration of the recordings. If an employer is recording employees without their knowledge, they are violating privacy laws. Additionally, employers may only use video recordings in areas where employees are performing work; they may not record any behavior that occurs outside of the workspace, including in the break room and bathroom.

Call Recording: An employer may record employee phone calls that occur on company phones. As with video recording, an employer must disclose to the employee that they are recording phone calls. If an employee is taking a private call on a company phone when company policy is to record calls, it is not unlawful for the employer to record a personal call. It is unlawful for an employer to secretly record any phone calls or record private calls occurring on a private phone.

Email Monitoring: An employer has the right to monitor an employee’s email activity on their company email.

GPS: Employers have the right to use GPS tracking on company equipment and on company vehicles. Employers must disclose their usage of GPS tracking. If an employer does not disclose that they are using GPS tracking to monitor employees, they may be violating their employee’s privacy.

Social Media: An employer can look at an employee’s social media that is publicly available. An employer may not request an employee’s social media account information or require an employee to show them their social media presence.

Drug testing: Drug testing is allowed as an employment prerequisite or if an employee’s behavior indicates drug use. If used as a prerequisite for employment, all new hires must be drug tested; an employer cannot pick and choose who to test. In order to drug test an employee, an employer must have a drug testing policy already in place. It is illegal for an employer to drug test an employee if the drug test is discriminatory in any way.

Be aware that your coworkers have the same rights to privacy as you do. It is illegal to record audio or video of your coworkers when they are not aware or if they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The law additionally protects employees who report unlawful privacy violations at work. If you make a complaint of privacy violations, resist privacy violations in the workplace, or participate as a witness in a privacy violation complaint, your employer may not treat you unfavorably as a result. If your employer has treated you differently because you reported or resisted any form of privacy violation, your employer may have retaliated against you and broken the law.

If you have experienced a privacy violation at work, you may be entitled to compensation under state laws in the form of emotional distress damages, and putative damages.
If you believe you may be facing privacy violations at work, take the following steps to support your case:

Save Evidence: Record all relevant events or interactions in writing. Save related notes and documents. Additionally, you may request your personnel file to review any documents you have signed and ensure that your file is complete.

Find an Attorney: Reach out to an employment lawyer. Navruz Avloni is an employment attorney dedicated to fighting for your rights in the workplace. Schedule a free consultation with Navruz Avloni.

Contact Us

Navruz Avloni is an experienced employment attorney dedicated to advocating for employee rights in the workplace. If you believe your privacy has been violated at work and are looking for an employment lawyer, reach out to Navruz Avloni for a free consultation

Contact Us