Employee Privacy Paper
The business world is rapidly changing with the introduction to new technologies and communication methods. Business corporations, both large and small, are adapting to the new norms of society and have started to apply the internet and email usage to everyday business activities. Within every business office one can find computers, internet, and other technologies that create a quicker, immediate means to communication and allow employees to perform their many tasks and duties associated with their jobs. In recent developments, businesses have begun implementing privacy policies on both employee internet and email usage at the office.
Many believe that the invasion of privacy by employers is illegal, but to the contrary, many trials and court cases prove otherwise. To begin with, businesses and corporations that have offered their employees internet and email usage within the office provide a necessary and more convenient way to perform their job duties. These amenities are a privilege to employees and must be respectfully and responsibly operated. According to a recent court case, Fraser v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. , 352 F. 3d 107 (3rd Cir. 2003), the privacy rights of employees using company internet servers for email are negated.
As ruled in the court, employers have the right to monitor all emails and internet usage by employees to a reasonable extent. If an employee sends, receives, or stores an email within the employers system, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (Friedman & Reed, 2007)a. Companies may have guaranteed the privacy rights of employees emails, but guarantees are not considered law. In the Smyth v. Pillsbury Company case, a supervisor emailed an inappropriate email to their subordinate via to a home email account.
After the subordinate opened the email at home, he or she continued to send the email throughout the office using the company’s internet server. After the Pillsbury company came across the inappropriate email the subordinate was immediately fired (De Pree & Jude, 2006). Regardless to the company’s guarantee the court ruled in favor of the PIllsbury Company, stating “once the plaintiff (the subordinate) communicated the alleged unprofessional comments to a second person over the e-mail system that was apparently utilized by the entire company, any reasonable expectation of privacy was lost.
Another example of the rules of internet and email privacy at the office can be explained through Dow Chemical v. Local No. 564, Operating Engineers, 246 F. Supp. 2d 602 (SD Texas, 2002). Some 254 employees working at Dow Chemicals were sending, receiving, storing, or involved with the creation of many inappropriate emails circulating throughout the office. The company had some sort of software application that took a “snap shot” of all the emails and internet activity in a given work day.
After examining the many different emails, the company disciplined and terminated many of the employees involved. The court decided that the Dow Chemical company was following all laws and regulations associated with the review of company emails. Even though the advancement in email technology has increased the number of emails sent daily, companies have been increasing their privacy software to coexist. Although some of these court cases and examples may seem extreme, employers need these privacy policies to eliminate any possible negative media or lawsuits that are caused by the inappropriate emails.
With todays technology, emails can be sent at incredible speeds across the internet to end up in a completely different country from its origin. It is important that employers have the legal right to overlook all emails being sent through their internet server to protect themselves from future prosecution. Implementing a software program that monitors emails in an employers internet server is inexpensive and most businesses have considered it an essential software program.
Employers have the right to protect themselves and eliminate the misuse of internet and email through privacy policies because a simple inappropriate comment in an email could turn into a discrimination lawsuit with the employer at fault. Consider the employer avoids any lawsuits from discriminative or inappropriate internet usage, business must know how their employees are working. Thousands of dollars could be lost if employees take time out of their work day to tend personal email or non work related web searches.
With the laws and regulations in favor of the employers and businesses, employees must recognize that their employee emails and internet usage are being monitored. Employees must assume that every activity, email, or website conducted on their office computer is being overlooked by their employer. According to Dee Pree & Jude, more than 75% of business internet connections are being monitored for inappropriate usage. Any activity that does not pertain to work or has sexually inappropriate content will be logged by the computer software and viewable to the employer.
Employees must expect that their computer privacy is non existent. These privacy policies could also benefit the employees, if employees time on the internet is utilized to complete job duties. While the employer monitors internet and email activity, noticing each employees use of the internet. Employers may recognize the efficiency and effectiveness of the time spent at work and reward the appropriate employees. Currently at my profession there are not many instances when employees sit down and use the internet or the company email to send information.
Moreover, there are some policies implemented in the company that prevents the employees from acting inappropriate during interviews, live games, and even in their personal social media profiles. Our organization stresses the importance of representing the organization with respect and with appropriate behavior. Our policies include using appropriate language during all interviews, never acting with poor sportsmanship or selfishness while playing a game, and making sure that you are represented well in all social media profiles.
Our organization believes that we are walking representation for what values and beliefs the organization stands for, and enforces all their employees to follow accordingly. Privacy is given to each employee, but once the employee is in the “spotlight” of the public, policies are enforced to ensure inappropriate behavior never occurs. In conclusion, due to the advancements in technology in the business market, businesses can now conduct business more efficiently and effectively, but with a cost to their employees.
Employers are starting to implement privacy policies to both their internet usage as well as their company email allowing them to monitor over their employees. There have been numerous lawsuits and court cases against employers invading the privacy of their employees, but only to find the rulings in favor of the employers. Employees must expect these conditions at their workplaces and review the privacy policies that are being enforced. While on the employers internet, work related activities should only be conducted, and making sure emails are appropriate for the workplace will prevent employees from being prosecuted from their employer.