Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversation in the 50 States andD.C. (The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press).6. Workplace Privacy ProtectionsWhat about my employer's promises regarding e-mail and other workplace privacy issues. Are they legally binding?Not necessarily. Usually, when an employer states a policy regarding any issue in the workplace, including privacy issues, that policy is legally binding. Policies can be communicated in various ways: through employee handbooks, via memos, and in union contracts. For example, if an employer explicitly states that employees will be notified when telephone monitoring takes place, the employer generally must honor that policy. There are usually exceptions for investigations of wrong-doing. If you are not already aware of your employer's workplace privacy policies, it is a good idea to become informed.In Smyth v. Pillsbury, the employee's termination was upheld by the court, even though the company had a policy of allowing e-mail use for personal communications. In this case, the employee had sent messages to co-workers that were deemed highly inappropriate for workplace communications. (Smyth v. Pillsbury, C.A. NO. 95-5712, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jan.18, 1996, Decided, Jan. 23, 1996, Filed.www.Loundy.com/CASES/Smyth_v_Pillsbury.html)Are there any laws that deal with workplace privacy?Currently there are very few laws regulating employee monitoring. If you are concerned about this issue, contact your federal legislators, especially the members of the House and Senate Labor committees in Congress. (See PRC Fact Sheet 18 "Privacy in Cyberspace," www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm.)
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