Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Employment Law and the Right to Privacy

By Dan Atkerson on May 22, 2019

A book on employment lawAttorney Dan A. Atkerson is committed to helping workers. He has assisted countless people in the greater Carrollton, TX area with employment law issues involving workplace discrimination, harassment, and mistreatment. Mr. Atkerson is an advocate for people in all lines of work, because employees deserve to be treated with respect and dignity by their employers and fellow employees.

Privacy rights issues have been hotly debated when it comes to employment law matters. How much privacy is an employee given at their workplace? Additionally, are employers allowed to monitor emails, telephone calls, and personal social media accounts? Our law firm would like to go over some topics related to the right to privacy below.

Privacy Rights and Your Belongings at Work

When it comes to your physical belongings, there are many privacy protections in place. In most cases, your employer cannot simply search your bags or personal belongings without your consent. The same is true with the contents of drawers at your workspace or the items in an employee locker room.

Privacy Rights and Details About Your Personal Life

Privacy rights also extend to details about your personal life. Employers and co-workers cannot coax details about someone’s private life from them. This includes relationship status, sexual orientation, religion, and so forth. Prying about personal details could lead to a toxic work environment, and may be the basis for workplace discrimination claims.

Privacy Rights and Workplace Communication

The above issues related to privacy seem pretty straightforward. As we get into communication at work, the issues of privacy become more complicated. Many people who contact our Carrollton law firm have questions about monitoring communications at work and whether or not their privacy has been violated.

Telephone Calls at Work

Employers are allowed to monitor telephone conversations made on workplace phones as well as voicemails received on these lines. This may be done to monitor service and to ensure quality. Employers have limited ability to monitor personal calls made on workplace lines.

Emails at Work

Email and inter-office messages can be monitored as well, especially when official employee email accounts are used. This is why employees must be careful about any information they send, share, or transmit while on their work computer. With that in mind, an employee's internet history on their workplace computer can also be monitored.

Conversations at Work

There’s debate about in-person conversations between employees at work and whether or not these should be considered private conversations. The context and nature of the conversation is often key.

Privacy Rights and Your Social Media Accounts

Since so many people have social media accounts, employers can potentially look through public social media accounts of employees. If publicly available posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platforms contain sensitive or offensive material, some employers may request that those posts be deleted or made private. In fact, some older social media posts have been the basis of terminations at some companies.

Privacy Rights and Drug Tests

Many workplaces have the right to perform mandatory drug tests of employees. Even though Texas has no laws restricting drug tests for employees, there may be limits to these drug tests as a result of right to privacy debates. Wellness policies such as these may not be stipulated in an employee’s contract, and could be an act of discrimination or retaliation against that employee. It’s important to consider the employer’s justifications for the drug screening.

When Is a Person’s Privacy Violated by an Employer?

As you can see, these discussions about privacy at the workplace can be complicated, especially in our interconnected world. If you feel that your privacy rights have been violated by a co-worker or supervisor, discuss this with your HR department. You can also reach out to our Carrollton law firm to discuss your case with our team if there are not viable ways to address this incident at your workplace.

Contact the Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

For more information about your legal protections as an employee and if they have been violated, contact a skilled workplace law and employment dispute attorney. You can reach our law firm by phone at (214) 383-3606.

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Allen, TX 75013

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