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Employee Privacy Laws

How much privacy can an employee expect in a public workplace? Many employers can monitor an employee’s emails, surfing the internet and phone calls. But, when is the employer crossing the lines into employee privacy? There are many specific laws allowing certain employee privacy. Contact an Expert to gain legal answers and insight regarding laws on employee privacy.

Are there laws on employee privacy?

Not only are there state laws, but there are federal and local legislation that provide protection against an invasion of employees’ privacy. Federal and state laws deal with the confidentiality of personnel files and employees’ to access personnel files along with other searches, drug and alcohol testing, and privacy in the electronic workplace, such as e-mails, telephone, and computer. The courts have created a law to allow employees to sue the employer for invasion of privacy; this covers four factors: intrusion, private affairs, defamation and appropriation of name.

Is it legal in the state of California for an employer to require the employee to take their lunch breaks in a lounge or have to be parked out front of the building?

According to the Labor Code 96 (k), an employee cannot be terminated or disciplined for lawful activities that are during nonworking hours. Since a lunch break is normally considered nonworking time, if the employer is controlling the location where the employee must spend their nonworking hours, it would be unlawful under the California law, because the employee will be entitled to a constitutional right to privacy during nonworking hours.

These laws are very hard for an employee to enforce, and the courts have been unwilling to hold the employers to anything unless it is a very serious violation of an employee’s privacy rights. The employer’s requirements may be considered illegal. It can all depend on the DLSE investigation officer’s interpretation of the law, assuming the employee was to file a wage claim.

When an Outplacement company gives another company employment status about an employee that they terminated, is this considered employee privacy violation?

If the previous employer has contacted this outplacement company to help the previous employee with their employment status it will not be considered an invasion of privacy to provide these status reports, especially if an issue with unemployment is involved.

Do employees have any rights to any privacy laws as to what is shared to a previous employer?

A previous employer has the right to disclose information on past employees to any future employers. Many employers choose not to give out this information because they do not want to be accused of releasing false information and have a potential court case because of this. Laws allow an employer to give out employment and employment history to a future employer along with any evaluations or reasons for discharges or termination of employment with any employers who may ask for this information.

In the state of California can an employer release information to someone about an employee’s work schedule?

In the state of California there are no laws that prohibit an employer from releasing an employee’s schedule to a third party. There is no privacy interest in an employee’s schedule. Many times an employee feels that their employer is invading their privacy. Many times that is the case, and other times, the employee does not completely understand the employee privacy rights in the workplace. Experts can provide many legal answers and insight relating to many employee privacy issues
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Recent Privacy Questions

  • I have worked on and off, for Target, throughout college. After

    I have worked on and off, for Target, throughout college. After graduation I have been working for them the past 13 months. I am a diabetic and sometimes I need to check my sugars while at work. It was never an issue until the past 10 months. I am being "coached" constantly for not completing my job, even though no one else is getting their tasks completed. I'm accused of "wandering" in the store but couldn't be told by whom or when. I do browse during breaks. They want me to call over the walkie when I need to check sugars, go to the restroom, get water, or get a snack, Isn't this a privacy issue? No one else is needs to call in. They say it is for my safety, yet I'm scheduled to work alone, and be up on the "wave" moving heavy boxes alone. I have had diabetes for 17 yrs. and taught to be independent. Because of the stress resulting from this poor management my blood sugar have been all over causing me to miss work. I have filed FMLA since December, 4x's, and they still claim they don't have it. I am now afraid to check blood sugars for low's for fear of losing what small income I have. Do I have any recourse?
  • on april I received and email from my boss that I was speaking

    on april I received and email from my boss that I was speaking in my native language with my coworkers . last january I received another one but it was addressed to everybody so i did not find it discriminatory. because she indicated in the april's email that it has been reported to her that I was hear speaking in my native language with "coworkers" so even she emailed my privately because the way I understood it involves a lot of people in my national origin so I asked everyone and they verified that they haven't received that email except the January one. so my question goes.
    I complained about this to our operations manager and asked her help to bring me to HR. But instead of directly bringing me to HR my direct manager asked me to drop by her office. So I told her my concern. But since she was threaten with the words I used such as discrimination she responded this way( how do you that it only was you ? how do you know that i did not send emails to some other people about the native language usage the other week or last month? so I told her there's only 7 people who speak my native language and all of them testified that they did not received that email in april except the general email in january. so she was upset and said you are not supposed to discussed private emails and you violated email privacy.
    So my questions
    1.) I did not see any privacy notice in the email, is it a law violation if you share the information about the content of the email especially if it is offensive, discriminatory?
    2.)is my situation constitute harassment against my manager?
    by the way the company's policy specifically says: english must be used at all times while in the technical area unless consent is given by all people. however in my situation I remember I was only speaking to a coworker who speaks the language but he doest like me so he was my suspect of reporting this to my direct manager he has been known though to speak in my native language at work. This coworker by the way is the favorite(perceived by all people) of our manager. So I guess this manager responded to him quickly and caused me to get insulted by discrimination because the email was addressed to me only however the january's email was addressed to all when somebody else are involved other than me. thanks a lotplease review the following emails:
    this is the January email====for everyone
    all I have had a concern expressed that we may not be following the policy for English proficiency and Usage.I have posted this policy outside my office for those of you who may wish to review it .Basically the complaint is that some employees while in the work area are speaking languages other than english.All people in the work groups must agree to having non-english communications,even private ones while staff are performing patient care related work. to my knowledge we have not made such an agreement.
    April's email===most possibly just me, to my knowledge after i asked all filipinos in the lab except that suspect filipino. in addition I never spoken filipino even by accident to english only speaking co workers
    Roy, it has been brought to my attention that you speaking to co-workers in your native language while on the bench working. I have requested before that you only speak English in the department. You can speak any language you want on breaks just not in the department when communicating with others. I have sent you a copy of the policy, please read it and let me know if you have any questions.
    1.)although the email is just a reminder can that still be considered a strong case?
    2.)I am more threatened when she was so upset after hearing my concerns that see mentioned I violated email privacy. is this a retaliation?
    3.) will firing me cause her more serious violation?
    4.) how about the suspect filipino tattle teller does he qualify to have the right to prevent me from speaking my native filipino language even if he knows filipino very proficiently?
    thanks a lot
  • My wife just called me crying, saying she just gave her 2 week

    My wife just called me crying, saying she just gave her 2 week notice to her employeer. For the past two years she has been harassed by her supervisor in an attempt to get my wife to quit. It started when she was being harassed by other employees for her age, calling her grandma and other derogatory terms. She was also harassed by a co-worker who is gay. He would ask my wife if she bought him any sex toys for christmas, etc... My wife complained multiple times to HR and filed complaints. Since then, my wifes supervisor has been giving her a very difficult time and cut her hours on different occasions, would not let her be fully useful in her job, and would say rude things to her in front of other employees and customers. Is there anything she can do legally?
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