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DSST Business Ethics Study Guide sm

Although it appears they are erased they are often

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deleted. Although it appears they are erased, they are often permanently "backed up" on magnetic tape, along with other important data from the computer system. My employer's electronic mail system has an option for marking messages as "private." Are those messages protected? In most cases, no. Many electronic mail systems have this option, but it does not guarantee your messages are kept confidential. An exception is when an employer's written electronic mail policy states that messages marked "private" are kept confidential. Even in this situation, however, there may be exceptions. (See Smyth v. Pillsbury.) Is there ever a circumstance in which my messages are private? Some employers use encryption to protect the privacy of their employees' electronic mail. Encryption involves scrambling the message at the sender's terminal, then unscrambling the message at the terminal of the receiver. This ensures the message is read only by the sender and his or her intended recipient. While this system prevents co-workers and industrial "spies" from reading your electronic mail, your employer may still have access to the unscrambled messages. Are my text messages on an employer-provided cell phone private? In an opinion issued on June 18, 2008, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that employers must have either a warrant or the employee's permission to see cell phone text messages that are not stored by the employer or by someone the employer pays for storage. While e-mail typically is stored on a company's own servers, text messages usually are stored by cell phone companies and the employer does not directly pay for their storage. That distinction formed the basis for the court’s decision. (Quon v. Arch Wireless, et al. 529 Fed3d (9th Cir 2008)). On December 14, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the 9th Circuit decision. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision in 2010. 5. Video Monitoring Can employers use video monitoring in the workplace? For the most part, yes. Video monitoring is a commonplace method of deterring theft, maintaining security and monitoring employees. For example, a bank may utilize video monitoring to prevent or collect evidence on a robbery. A company may also use video monitoring in a parking garage as a security measure for employee safety. Employers may also use cameras to monitor employee productivity and prevent internal theft. Currently, federal law does not prevent video monitoring even when the employee does not know or consent to being monitored. Are there situations where an employer cannot use video cameras? In some instances, courts have upheld employee privacy. Specifically, courts have sided with employee privacy in instances where the monitoring has been physically invasive, such as hidden cameras in a locker room or bathroom. See National Workrights Institute’s Electronic Monitoring in .
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There are some state laws (such as Connecticut’s Gen Stat 31-48b ) that have restrictions on where, how and why an employer may videotape employees. Labor unions
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