Employee Privacy in the Workplace
Although not expressly afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution, Americans still feel they should have the right to some degree of privacy. With recent talk of perceived privacy breaches, such as the monitoring of our personal chats and postings by Facebook and Instagram and the collection of our personal data by Apple, we have become increasingly concerned with our right to privacy - both at home and at work.
If you feel your employer has infringed on your right to privacy, contact Levin & Nalbandyan. Our attorneys are well-versed in employment privacy matters and will work to ensure your rights as an employee are protected. To learn more about how we can help, call (213) 513-5614 today to arrange a free consultation with a leading employment lawyer in Los Angeles.
Your Right to Privacy at Work
The state of California affords its residents the right to privacy, which is guaranteed in the state’s labor code and under Article 1, Section 1 of the California Constitution. These employee privacy laws detail what an employer can and cannot do when it comes to an employee’s personal information and activities.
Emails, Phone Calls, and Computer Data
Employers have the right to access and monitor data on company-issued equipment, such as cell phones and computers. This means they can monitor your phone calls, voicemails, emails, and texts. Your employer can also track your computer use, such as your internet searches and what websites you visit.
Employers can also install tracking software that provides data on how much time you are actively working on your devices, which has become an increasingly popular monitoring method with the drastic increase in remote working.
They do not, however, have the right to monitor your personal equipment. So, be sure to conduct all private communication and internet use on your personal cell phone or computer.
California does give employers the right to monitor your social media accounts, such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. However, the state does not allow employers to force you to provide login information to your personal social media accounts in an effort to access your personal messages or private posts. When on social media, keep in mind that anything you post publicly can be viewed by your employer.
California law is very strict when it comes to an employee’s medical records. It only allows employers to access limited details of your medical history and only if the information is used to determine whether you are able to perform certain job functions. An employer can also require you to take a drug test if you are applying for a new job.
California employers have the right to perform a lawful background check, which can provide them with highly sensitive and personal information. They can access your criminal record, credit report, driving record, and immigration record. So be sure to keep in mind that if you are applying for a job as a commercial truck driver, the trucking company will likely pull your driving record. If you are applying for a job at a daycare, there is a significant chance they will look for a history of crimes against children.
Employers can install and monitor cameras for security purposes, but only if you have been formally notified of the presence and use of the cameras. However, employers cannot install cameras in areas where you expect to have privacy. These areas include restrooms, changing rooms, nursing areas, and locker rooms.
In California, audio recordings are only permitted when all parties consent to being recorded. If your employer records you without your knowledge or consent, they have violated your rights as an employee. Not only can you take legal action against them, they can also face charges of eavesdropping under California Penal Code 632.
Speak with a Los Angeles Employment Lawyer
Employers do have the right to monitor their workers to ensure they are doing a good job - but only to a certain extent. Fortunately for workers in California, state legislation helps draw the line as to what your employer can and cannot do.
If you are an employee who feels your employer infringed on your right to privacy at the workplace, you may have the right to take legal action. At Levin & Nalbandyan, our team of Los Angeles employment lawyers is dedicated to protecting the rights of workers across California. Utilizing our thirty years of experience handling employment law matters, we are proud to protect the rights of workers who experience privacy violations and other employment-related matters.