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Electronic Surveillance of Employees Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Explain where an employee can reasonably expect to have privacy in the workplace.

The concept of legally enforceable right to workplace privacy for employee is fairly new. There is nowhere in the United States Constitution that guarantees you to a right to privacy. The fourth Amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, house, papers and effects, against unreasonable search and seizures.” Here you will find some laws that I would consider to be reasonable expectations of privacy in the work place.

The fair credit act states that; an employer has to seek permission before obtaining a credit report to decide employment. The Americans Disable Act restricts employer’s ability from obtaining medical information from employees and applicants, and protects the privacy of such records. The Employees Polygraph Act protects employees from being subjected to polygraph testing. When an employee enters the workplace the majority of his or her privacy is taken away. The work place is considered a public domain. The employee should be protected from an employer unwanted inquires of private matters of the employee. The one which should never be broken in my opinion is cameras in the bathroom or changing room areas.

In the office workplace there are typically two types of workspaces, an open area, in which there are several desks and where conversations can be overhead, or an enclosed office, in which—when the door is closed—conversations cannot be heard and where one would expect virtually total privacy. Explain whether it makes a difference if an employee is in an open area or in an enclosed office. Whether the work space is an office or a cubicle there is no such thing as total privacy in the work place. Most scholars would agree that a man’s home is his castle; however when one enters into the work place the castle is no more. The employer has a right to know everything or business that is conducted on his or her property. The conversations which are conducted on company’s premises should be of ethical standards; hence no conversation should be off limits to the employer. The employer has a right to protect his or her place of business without violating employee privacy.

That means reasonable monitoring not prying into employees personal life. Explain if Herman’s need to know whether his salespersons are honest is a sufficient ground for utilizing electronic surveillance. Herman had a reasonable concern to use electronic surveillance to ensure the honesty of his sales associates; however the employees should be notified that all conversation pertaining to sales or consumer related business would be monitored for training purposes. The reason for agreeing with Herman is simple. Whatever the sales associate promises to the customer whether its truthful or not the company is still liable for the sales associates’ actions. After reviewing the video you would notice the sales rep was engaging in conversation that was not totally truthful.

Statements such as

, “I had no idea that there were so many improvements in modern cars”, “Mr. Sulka. No need for

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changing the oil at all”? That was the response from the customer. He (Tony) responded “just every hundred thousand miles or after a total eclipse of the sun, whichever comes first.” With that statement he is suggesting that you could go well over the recommended time before changing the oil on a car. If the customer took the salesman literally and drove that car without changing the oil, that action could cause serious damage to the car and even void the warranty if there was one, as we assuming the car was new and all new vehicles have some type of warranty. The customer could have a reasonable cause for a law suit against the car dealership. That’s just the beginning because of these action the customer would warn his or her friends of the shady dealing at the dealership. This would give the company a black eye word- of- mouth could lead to bad press, bad press can be more detrimental to a company than a law suit because the company can simply make settlement and move on.

These are some of the consequences some employers face on a daily bases and that’s why I agree with electronic surveillance in this case. Explain to what extent an employer can engage in electronic surveillance of employees. “The basic federal protection for the privacy of electronic communications is found in the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA), which encompasses federal wiretapping laws and federal laws prohibiting unauthorized access to communications in electronic storage. Under these federal statutes it is unlawful for anyone, including an employer, to intentionally “intercept” the content of a wire, oral or electronic communication (hereafter “Title I” violations). It is also a federal crime for anyone to “access” without “authorization” a facility providing electronic communication service and thereby obtain access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage (hereafter “Title II” violations).

Unless the interception or unauthorized access of a wire, oral, or electronic communication is covered by one of several statutory exemptions or defenses, violation of these statutes is a federal crime. These laws also give private citizens, including employees, the right to sue for civil damages when there has been an unlawful interception or access to a communication in electronic storage in violation of the privacy rights set out in these statutes. See Appendix A for a Summary of Federal Privacy Statutes: The Electronic Communications Privacy Act”. Retrieve from July 15 2011 http://www.forensics-intl.com/art19.html . The Federal Government can monitor any private or government electronic surveillance system by wire tap and many different form of monitoring with or without in certain circumstances. With that said if the company is being monitored by the Feds and other incriminating evidence is found such as child pornography or insider trading this could lead to other complications.

The employer has the right to protect themselves from these kinds of misfortunes. And that’s not even taking into consideration theft, whether its merchandise or time these are major issues in which a company has to deal with. Electronic monitoring can be overwhelming to some employees, they can feel like their employers don’t trust them and the relationship between employer and employee can become strained. The solution could be training and meetings to explain the severity of protecting the company’s image, protecting employment, security, company’s assets, and explaining why it’s necessary. The extent of the monitoring should be internet usage, business calls that are job related video cameras for cash registers, store room and show room, and cameras in the Parking lots for employee security.

Explain to what extent the inclusion of innocent, unaware third-parties in such surveillance determine whether it is legal. When an employer use third – parties in electronic surveillance it can become tricky. Things like internet monitoring, video cameras, and phone monitoring could be misused to intrude into employee’s personal lives. Monitoring areas such as restrooms or changing rooms are illegal activities. However, if the company informs their employees that their phone calls and internet access are monitored, and that there are cameras at registers and in the store rooms this gives the employee fair warning. If that employee decides on their own free will to violate company policy and break these rules the appropriate action should be taken against them.

References
http://www.forensics-intl.com/art19.html . July 15 2011

Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2009). Law & Ethics in the business environment:2010 custom edition (6th ed.) Mignin, R. J., Lazar, B. A., & Friedman, J. M. (2002). Privacy Issues in the Workplace: A Post-September 11 Perspective. Employee Relations Law Journal, 28(1), 7. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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