IS YOUR BOSS WATCHING YOU FROM AFAR?

#employerspying #privacy #spyingonemployees
Imagine your boss forcing you to download an app on your personal cell phone that would allow him or her to monitor everything you do, everywhere you go, both at work and at home.
Would that bother you? What if deleting that app from your phone got you fired?
Heather G. Anderson, a lawyer with the Miller Anderson Law Group, discussed this in a column in the June 21, 2015, edition of The News Sentinel newspaper in Knoxville, Tenn.
Many employers equip their company vehicles with GPS systems to monitor their whereabouts at all times, Anderson says.
Now, a California company has opted to require employees to download an app on their personal cell phones, so they can monitor what the employees are doing at all times, she says.
Certainly, employers can have legitimate reasons to monitor people. They certainly don’t want their employees goofing off, or dealing with other personal issues on work time. Employers may even want to track employees and vehicles in search of better and quicker responses to problems, more efficient use of company property and employees’ time etc.
The big question becomes, what about an employee’s privacy? Anderson says employees expected privacy in the workplace by locking desks, password-protecting documents etc. But employers have discovered that some employees abuse the latitude they are offered in the workplace.
So, Anderson says, if you are an employer, and you don’t want to offer your employees any privacy while on the job, including Internet and cell phone use, you need to spell that out.
But what about monitoring an employee outside of work? Anderson says many states have laws regarding employee monitoring, and some require permission in advance from the employee to do so. Others make it illegal to fire an employee based on lawful activity outside of work, unless specific exceptions apply. Tennessee does not have any off-duty conduct laws, she adds.
Anderson recommends, as one might expect, that employers check with an attorney to determine the rights and risks involved in setting up a monitoring policy.
Many employers will try to get away with anything to learn as much as they can about someone who works for them. They delve into a person’s social media activities, do background checks etc. A rule of thumb here for an employee or prospective employee: if you have something you don’t want your employer or prospective employer to know, don’t put it where it can easily be found. Better yet, keep it to yourself.
The bigger questions, besides the legal ones, become: what limits do employers have? What expectation of privacy should employees have when they go to work someplace? An employer’s curiosity may not stop with the interview question: what are your hobbies?
Of course, you can eliminate the possibility of an employer snooping on you by becoming an independent business person. How? For one of the best ways, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You can work for yourself, not by yourself, and create the freedom to do what you like, without anyone watching. Of course, it’s always best to do good things, even when no one is watching.
As employers look for tighter leashes for their employees ostensibly to improve their bottom lines, they risk sending great, or potentially great, employees out the door. If you are one of those great, or potentially great, employees, your options may not be as limited as you might believe.
Peter

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