DSST Business Ethics Study Guide sm

Are my text messages on an employer provided cell

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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 the Workplace: Common Law & Federal Statutory Protection for a more in-depth discussion .
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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 may negotiate limitations on video recordings of unionized workers. In 1997, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that surveillance was subject to mandatory bargaining, meaning a union must agree to any monitoring of unionized workers. This includes the use of hidden cameras. Read the National Labor Relations Board Advice Memorandum on this case. Union members should speak with a union representative if they have concerns about workplace video monitoring. What about video cameras that include audio surveillance? Video cameras that also capture audio recordings may be subject to laws relating to audio recording, including wiretap and eavesdropping laws. Federal law does not prohibit audio recording of phone conversations as long as one party on the call consents to recording. Most states have extended this law to include recording in-person conversations. Twelve states have laws that require that all parties in a conversation consent to audio recording. For a state-specific guideline of laws regarding audio recording, visit Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversation in the 50 States and
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