What Are Your Privacy Rights At Work?

What privacy rights at work do you have?

It's important to know what your privacy rights at work are. Here are a list of common questions and answers regarding privacy in the workplace:

Can an employer fire you for a positive drug test in a medical marijuana state?

Yes, an employer can fire you for a positive drug test even with a medical marijuana doctor's note. Even though many states have passed laws legalizing medical marijuana, it's still federally illegal. If your employer has policies prohibiting marijuana and you fail the drug test they can fire you, but you won't be prosecuted for state criminal drug charges.

Can an employer read your emails?

Most employers have policies regarding their computers and emails stating that they should only be used for business purposes and that they monitor them. In these cases, employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Employers can read these communications.

Can an employer listen to your phone calls?

An employer can monitor your phone calls, however, if a call is personal, they're typically supposed to stop listening. In some states, an employer must notify the employee that their call is monitored. As for text messages, employers are generally allowed to search text messages on company phones.

Can an employer fire you for your written online opinions?

It depends if you work for a public or private company. There's no First Amendment protection for employees if they work for a private company. Basically, if you tweet or blog, or use any other social media to express your opinions about your company and you work for a private employer, you have no protections.  So it's important to be careful about what you post online.

Can an employer install security cameras in the office?

Yes, an employer can monitor employees by installing security cameras as long as they're not overly invasive. An overly invasive location for a security camera would be somewhere like a restroom or locker room.

Can an employer search you?

There are a few factors to consider when answering this question. Does your employer have written policies about searching employees? Do they have a legitimate reason for searching all their employees such as when an item is stolen? What did they search? Did they search employees' bags or did they attempt to search the person's body? Did they search objects that are considered their property such as desks, offices, computers, or lockers? They could even search your car if it is a company car. Did they target specific employees or was everyone searched equally? An employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, so if there are no written policies for searching employees, the employee has no justified reason to search an employee, or they conduct and intrusive search such as searching an employee's body, the employee may have grounds for legal action.


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