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Employee Monitoring Laws

Employee monitoring occurs daily in the workplace at many companies. To many people, this is just another facet of working within a company. To others, this may cause questions about employee rights and employment law to arise. Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer answer a wide variety of Employment Law questions regarding employee monitoring laws. Take a look at five of the top employee monitoring questions answered by the Experts.

Can an employer monitor instant messenger and terminate an employee for the contents of an email?

As a general guideline, an employee has no expectation of privacy in the workplace. An employer is within the rights to monitor company computers and any activity that is taking place on them. Without a written employment contract, an employee is considered to be an at will employee. The employer can terminate the services of an at will employee for little or no reason, as long as the reason is not based on age, race, gender, religion, or disability discrimination. Also, without an established written policy that states otherwise, the employer does not have to follow any progressive discipline (write ups, warnings, etc.)

Should the employer document the findings of wrongful acts found while monitoring activity on company computers?

Case Details: The employer intends to terminate an employee for wrongful acts

If you are not bound by an employment (or union) contract that states otherwise, or limits your ability to terminate an employee, you are generally not required to document anything. You can just terminate the employee because without a contract that states otherwise, an ‘at will’ employee can be terminated without providing any reason or justification. However, if you do maintain documentation, you would have evidence of the employee’s misconduct leading to the termination. The documentation would also minimize the chances of the employees claiming that you were discriminating against them. Also, with the appropriate evidence of issues that may have been had with the employee, you could strengthen your case to deny Unemployment Insurance Benefits.

In California, can an employer monitor an employee’s activity on company computers?

In order for an employer to monitor an employee’s computer activity at work, the employer would generally need to first have a computer and internet policy in place. It is very important that the employer makes the employees aware that their activity on company computers can be monitored. The reason for this is because California employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace. However, an employer should be allowed to activity that occurs on company computers. California courts recognize that when an employer informs employees that use of company computers are for business only and that the computers will be monitored, the employees’ expectation of privacy is diminished.

If an employee has been granted a corporate cell phone for personal use, can the corporation add applications to an employee’s phones and monitor personal email accounts during a court hearing?

The corporation would normally have no right to add applications to your cell phone after the court has awarded the cell for your personal use. You can to return to court and report the action from the corporation and ask the court for a hearing to show cause for contempt. As far as the corporation monitoring your private email accounts, if the accounts are not on a corporate computer, they have no right to access these accounts.

Is it legal for an employer to place a GPS tracking device in a company vehicle?

As an employer, you would normally have every right to install tracking devices in any of your company vehicles. The employer can install a tracking device in one or all of the company vehicles without explanation. However, to avoid any future unforeseen problems, you could add this stipulation in your company employee handbook and/or employment contracts. It could state that the company has the right to monitor any activity with respect to a company vehicle. This isn’t a requirement but it may be a better business practice to have it added to your company hand book.

There may come a time when you find yourself in a situation that requires the experience of an Employment Lawyer. Even though you have friends or family members who are willing to give you an opinion, you probably need something more solid. If you have questions about employee monitoring policies or employee monitoring laws, you can ask Employment Lawyers on JustAnswer. The Experts provide legal insights on a wide variety of employee monitoring questions and offer experienced insight to legal questions.

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