Employee Privacy Rights

The California Constitution protects employee privacy rights and prohibits intrusion into private matters. The use of employee monitoring is a balancing act that weighs the business interests against the threat to employee privacy rights. An employer has a right to monitor employee activities as related to security threats in the workplace, but they do not have an absolute right to invade the privacy of their workers. If you have had your privacy rights violated, the attorneys at Hennig, Ruiz & Singh are ready to help. We hold employers accountable.

Acceptable Forms Of Employee Monitoring

The law allows employers to monitor workers with technology, but each form of monitoring must follow strict usage guidelines.

  • Video monitoring: In California, employers can only use video monitoring in the workplace in places where workers perform duties. The law prohibits recording in restrooms, locker rooms or other rooms designated for changing clothes or nursing. The employer must also disclose the extent and duration of video recording.
  • Call recording: An employer may record phone calls for quality control purposes if the recording is disclosed at the beginning of a call with a beep or recorded statement. Workers warned of call recording and told not to make personal calls from work phones assume the risk of call monitoring.
  • Emails: Employers have the right to search and audit employee emails if there is a valid business reason for the monitoring.
  • Internet use: An employer can review an employee's browsing history and block or limit the amount of time spent on websites.
  • GPS tracking: Employers can use GPS tracking to monitor company equipment and track drivers.
  • Social media: California prevents employers from accessing an employee's social media accounts and limits the amount of snooping allowed. However, an employer can terminate an employee who posts harmful messages about the organization or demonstrates lifestyle actions contrary to company policies.
  • Drug testing: The law allows the use of drug testing as an employment prerequisite or when an employee's behavior indicates a reasonable suspicion of drug use. The employer needs to have drug testing and notification policies in place.

Protecting The Privacy Rights Of Workers

Employers who violate the privacy rights of their workers can be held liable. However, employees have a role in privacy protection as well. Workers need to take steps to avoid privacy violation and follow company policies.

If you feel your employer violated your privacy rights and would like to learn more about your rights, please complete the brief Do I Have a Case? questionnaire. One of the lawyers would be glad to discuss your situation in more detail during free consultation at our Los Angeles office. Or call us at 213-985-1305.