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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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