SINGLE CONTENT TEST
Employee Privacy on the Workplace Computer
Aug 17, 2015
By Brian D. Boreman
Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees, P.C.
Employers that wish to review the computer activities of their employees should promulgate effective computer monitoring policies to limit an employee’s expectation of privacy when using his or her workplace computer. The absence of such a policy may permit an employee to assert various privacy rights, which could subject an employer to liability if such privacy rights are violated by the employer or even by another employee. A computer monitoring policy should expressly identify that the employer reserves the right to review all incoming and outgoing electronic communications (i.e., email and instant messaging) by the employee. The policy should also specify the parameters of an employee’s acceptable use of a workplace computer (i.e., internet use), and the resultant disciplinary action if the parameters are broken.
Of course, the implementation of a computer monitoring policy is just one of many issues to consider regarding an employee’s use of a workplace computer. For instance, if an assertion is made that an employee is being subjected to a hostile work environment, the employer will likely be required to monitor, at a minimum, the alleged harasser’s computer activities. The failure to properly monitor the alleged harasser’s activities to curtail discrimination against a fellow employee could subject the employer to significant damages.