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Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace Concerning Internet - Essay Example

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This essay "Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace Concerning Internet" will discuss the problem of the employees' privacy on the workplace, with a particular focus on the emails. Both employers and employees have valid concerns about e-mail privacy…
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Employee Privacy Rights in the Workplace Concerning Internet
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Download file to see previous pages As workplace use of internet and reliance on e-mail grows, employers are spending more and more energy monitoring and regulating their employees' e-mails and other computer communications to avoid potential liability under hostile environment law. Even if antidiscrimination law were not a factor, employers would engage in a certain level of monitoring and regulation to ensure that their workers were not frittering away the workday instant-messaging their friends and Web surfing. But many employers are going well beyond what is needed to maximize productivity, and are using sophisticated surveillance tools to monitor employee e-mail to head off potential discrimination complaints. One-quarter of all large corporations, for example, perform keyword or phrase searches to censor employee e-mails, usually looking for sexual, scatological, or racist language (Rotenberg, M. 1993).
Thus, the issue for all employees in the Internet age is the lack of safety in venting gripes online. "If you vent to your best friends and your spouse, the boss never finds out," Houston Labor lawyer Linda Wills remarked. "If you vent in the hallway or on the Internet, you're asking for trouble". Of course, Internet monitoring is just one way employers track employees. "Most people who work for private employers have their constitutional rights put in the garbage for eight to ten hours a day".
Basically, it is believed that Performance monitoring has been critical to organizational effectiveness for centuries. Monitoring enables organizations to obtain information that can be used to assess and improve employee performance. Motivated by the variety of benefits that may accrue from monitoring, organizations have sought to improve the effectiveness of their monitoring efforts by assessing employees’ e mail and websites which they browse. (Jerry Adler, 1998)
It is also said that Employers are using these techniques in response to a wave of hostile environment lawsuits brought by women and others who either received sexually suggestive e-mails, or who were simply offended to discover that their coworkers had swapped such e-mails among themselves. Almost every hostile environment case contains allegations of offensive workplace e-mails. While it is true that few hostile environment cases succeed solely on the basis of allegations that a corporate defendant tolerated offensive e-mails, such e-mails do hostile environment defendants no favors, so it is most sensible to prohibit them completely.
As a leading First Amendment scholar points out, as long as e-mails can be used as part of a hostile environment claim, “the cautious employer must restrict each individual instance of such speech. The employer must say, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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