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Unformatted text preview: There has been proposed legislation such as the Notice of Electronic Monitoring Act that calls for new laws to protect employees, or at least to force employers to notify their staff of all their surveillance practices. Workers are still largely unprotected by law, and thus electronic monitoring poses a huge problem in some situations where lawsuits are filed. In 1990, the lawsuit Shoars vs. Epson America, Inc. , Alana Shoars found that her boss was intercepting e-mails being sent by the employees, after he told her to encourage everyone to use the e-mail system because it was safe and secured with a password. She protested and was fired because of her position on the matter. She filed a lawsuit and lost because it was ruled that employees should never have the expectation of privacy. Another example, in Smyth v. Pillsbury Co., Michael Smyth argued that his privacy was violated and he was wrongfully discharged from his job after his employers read several e-mails he had exchanged with his supervisor. In the emails, among other offensive references, he threatened to "kill the backstabbing bastards" in sales management. The court ruled that Smyth had "no reasonable expectation of privacy" on his employer's system, despite the fact that Pillsbury had repeatedly assured employees that their e-mail was confidential. In addition, the court held that the company's interest in preventing "inappropriate and unprofessional" conduct outweighed Smyth's privacy rights. This is a key point in the discussion. The privacy that is entitled to Americans, is somewhat lessened in the workplace. The Fourth Amendment that protects United States citizens from unreasonable search and seizure even, does no protect workers. The FBI have been trying to gain access to email information for security purposes. However this is much more challenging an issue, since in a work environment you are subject to the employer generally being able to do much more of what they want since you are being paid to work there. There are much less freedoms, so email information, or even any other types of personal information being monitored seem acceptable. The most relevant federal law, the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, prohibits unauthorized interception of various electronic communications, including e-mail. However, the law exempts service providers from its provisions, which is commonly interpreted to include employers who provide e-mail and internet access, according to David Sobel, legal counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center. A federal bill that would have required employers at least to notify workers that they were being monitored failed to come to a vote from 1993 to 1995....
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2011 for the course CMN 3 taught by Professor Puckering during the Spring '06 term at UC Davis.
- Spring '06