Do You Know Your Rights To Privacy At Work?
The advancement of technology has created a legal gray area for a majority of private sector employees who have an expectation of privacy in the workplace, but may be shocked to learn they do not have privacy protection under the law. Under the current wording of state and federal law, the expectation of privacy extends to an employee’s physical space such as their office or a locker, but not technology such as a computer or emails.
At The Grubb Law Group, our lawyers have spent decades handling a variety of employment law cases, including claims made by employees who have felt like their privacy rights were violated. We have the experience necessary to spot when an employee has been wronged, and we know how to seek a favorable remedy for that employee.
If you have questions about your right to privacy at work, The Grubb Law Group can help. Contact us for a free initial consultation where you can ask questions, get answers and determine the validity of your employer’s privacy policies.
Understanding Your Right To Privacy
Privacy laws in the workplace can be incredibly complex, which means it can be difficult for the average employee to understand their rights well enough to be able to identify when their privacy is being violated by their employer. An employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy may not always match company privacy policies or the law.
Common privacy issues and complaints filed by employees include:
- Monitoring computer usage — Employers have the right to lay out specific policies regarding computer usage that can include, among other things: Internet usage, access to specific websites, outline acceptable and unacceptable content in emails, and define what business can and cannot be conducted on company computers.
- Listening in on phone calls — The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) limits an employer’s right to monitor phone calls, both for business and personal use. The law only allows employers the right to monitor personal calls if the employee consents. And while it may be unlawful for an employer to intercept voicemails, an employer may listen to voicemails if they have been stored on a company system.
- Reading emails, documents and other computer files — Just because a computer is a physical thing doesn’t necessarily mean that an employee should expect privacy regarding their emails, documents or other files, especially if the computer is company property.
- Using cameras for purposes other than security — While it’s okay for companies to install cameras around the premises for security purposes, it is unlawful for those cameras to be hidden or located in a place where there is an expectation of privacy such as bathrooms and changing rooms, among other places.
- Drug testing prior to and after hiring an employee — West Virginia is a drug-free workplace state, which means we have laws in place that allow employers to test employees and potential employees to determine if they have used drugs or alcohol. However, employees still have a right to privacy that may be violated by an improper drug test.
- Searching locked offices or storage areas — Generally speaking, a physical space where physical items can be stored or secured are protected by privacy laws. This can include, among other things, lockers, offices, desks and vehicles.
You Deserve To Have Your Rights Protected
Even though employers have the right to monitor business operations, they do not have the right to violate your right to privacy. If you’ve experienced privacy issues at work and would like to take legal action to ensure the protection of your rights, contact The Grubb Law Group in Charleston.
Attorneys David L. Grubb and Kristina Thomas Whiteaker have more than 50 years of trial experience successfully handling a variety of employment law matters. We can walk you through the legal process, help you build a strong case and seek a favorable resolution. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your legal matter, call 304-982-7755 or send us a message online.