Surveillance and Legitimate Business Reason Essay

Submitted By labryses
Words: 792
Pages: 4

“Electronic Surveillance of Employees”

1) Explain where an employee can reasonably expect privacy in the workplace: There are very few areas in the workplace where an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy. The safest location, without question, is in the content of the thoughts of the individual. If a thought is not written or voiced, it can not be intruded upon, twisted, or used as grounds for censure or termination. However, as practical as that particular approach may sound in theory, it would actually work to the detriment of the individual. It would create a tension and sense of distrust causing the employee to appear anti-social at best and possibly a bit paranoid, or be characterized as an “alarmist” at worst. Interaction with management and peers is absolutely necessary on a daily basis, and anti-social behavior could cause just as much trouble for an employee as any indiscrete “opinion-sharing”. Another area of the workplace where privacy should be respected and expected is the lavatory. Surveillance cameras have no place in a men’s or ladies restroom. However, audio surveillance could still be practiced and conversations monitored, including cell phone conversations that the employee may have while stepping away from their desk to the restroom to hold what they believe should be a private conversation. Conversely, all conversations held in a private office behind closed doors should have an expectation of privacy. The conversation cannot be overheard by outside parties without the use of audio and sometimes video surveillance technology.

2) Explain whether it makes a difference if an employee is in an open area or in an enclosed office: Conversations held in a cubical have no privacy at all. Co-workers and management easily overhear, intentionally or not, and develop opinions based on pieces of information they might have heard. While on its face it would appear that co-workers should be authorized to hear any business conversation that occurs within an open office area, the hinge upon which that access should swing is their “need to know”. Unless particular co-workers have need of particular information in order to do their jobs, business conversations should be held in an office with a closed door and attended by only those parties who have a clearly understood “need to know”. There are three distinct areas that demand total privacy and discretion: Personnel records, medical information, and payroll information. Each of these areas contain highly confidential information that should be accessible only to those personnel responsible for their creation, maintenance, and tracking; namely, the Human Resource Department. Confidentiality must be absolute and non-negotiable in all three areas, short of a court-order/subpoena.

3) Explain if Herman’s need to know whether his salespersons are honest is a sufficient ground for utilizing electronic surveillance: According to the 1968 Federal Wiretap Law and its amendment (the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 1986-ECPA) employers are allowed to listen in on communications made in the ordinary course of business “when efficiency or legal…