Many states have laws covering employees’ electronic privacy rights at work, and many companies have policies about privacy. Here’s how to know if your policies follow the law.
To test your knowledge of those laws in the workplace, answer True or False to the following questions.
1. Employers have the right to check an employee’s computer at any time to determine if the employee is using the computer for unauthorized work or activities.
2. It is illegal for an employer to check an employee’s work voicemail box for messages that originate outside your organization.
3. If an employee uses a workplace computer to download documents via Web mail (such as provided by Yahoo), the supervisor may not demand access to such documents.
1. True. Since the computer belongs to the company, that computer can be accessed by the employer anytime to determine how the computer is being used. In fact, some laws require you to notify the authorities if you learn the employee is using the computer for illegal purposes, such as downloading child pornography.
2. False. If authorized by an employer, a supervisor may access and examine all messages – originating in-house or from outside – stored in a company voicemail box.
3. False. The rules in this instance are the same as those that apply to answer No. 1 above: If a company computer houses the information, then it can be accessed by the company. The source of the information doesn’t matter.