An employer does not have an absolute right to invade the privacy of its employees. While employers are entitled to engage in certain monitoring activities that may affect its security, employers do not always have the absolute right to unlimited access to private information. The California Constitution, Article 1, Section 1, inalienable rights, include the right of privacy. Employees generally have the right to bring a lawsuit if the employer engages in serious conduct which violates the right of privacy, the employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy as to the interests which were invaded, and the employer causes injury to the employee.
Expectations of privacy can arise through court cases, laws, regulations, workplace policies, employee handbooks, written agreements, and other sources. Whether or not the employer is allowed to engage in activity which infringes upon the rights of employees, requires a “balancing test” which weights the importance of the business interests against the strength of the employee’s privacy interests. Privacy concerns can surface in almost every aspect of the employment relationship, such as the employer’s right to search employees, their lockers and desks, the right to access employees email, the right to conduct body searches, the right to eavesdrop and other intrusive on-duty (or off-duty) surveillance activities.Methods used by employers may include physical intrusions, video surveillance, or a variety of coercive activities.
For more information on various employee rights, click the links below.
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