Privacy Rights In The Workplace – Roxana Moolla 2018-09-18T10:45:44-07:00January 25, 2018|Categories: Employee Privacy Laws, Risk Management, Social Media, Social Media in the Workplace|Tags: Employers, Employers, Laws, Privacy, Community, media principles, social media policy, workplace
By now, most people think that social networks have become global and widespread. This is true for individuals and businesses. People use social media for a variety of reasons, perhaps to connect with family and friends, find a job, or get information. They can also use social media at work, find professional information about a colleague, provide customer service or advertise their business. Companies now routinely use social media to promote their business and brand, attract new customers, find and hire top talent and conduct competitive research.
Privacy Rights In The Workplace
The fact is that employees are active on social networks, sometimes for personal reasons, and sometimes to support their work-related activities. However, the line between these activities is increasingly blurred. Problems can and do arise when employees’ social media activities do not align with their employer’s expectations. Often, employers have no social media policy. By not answering important questions, both the employee and the employer face all sorts of risks.
Privacy In The Workplace
Generally, privacy is defined as the right to keep personal information, things and activities out of the hands of others.
Among other things, personal privacy may include an employee’s right not to disclose social media passwords to an employer, and not to have their use of social media at work monitored without express consent. The concept of privacy itself may also vary in different parts of the world. In some places privacy is a constitutionally guaranteed right, while in some countries, privacy is not considered a fundamental human right.
In the United States, and for international companies, employee privacy laws significantly affect the use of social media in the workplace. Understanding employee privacy laws and their impact on employee use of social media is an important first step toward managing the risks associated with such use. Leading and protecting your employees and company at the same time.
Generally, the employer has a desire to promote and protect the business. An employer’s interests may include creating a better product, increasing market share, remaining competitive, serving customers responsibly, managing risk and protecting its reputation. Many businesses now regularly engage in marketing and public relations, customer service and sales, marketing and other business activities on social media.
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On the other hand, employees may use social media for personal or work-related reasons. These activities may be on company time – or not. Employees can use social media for personal activities to communicate with family and friends. They can also use social media to collaborate with colleagues, build professional credibility, follow thought leaders and advocate on behalf of their employer. Social media can be used by employers to generate leads, build and maintain relationships with customers, and keep up with industry trends.
For example, a company recruiter may look for partners in their personal LinkedIn network who would be suitable for a new job posting in the company. But what happens when an employer comes across personal information about a potential job? Does an employer use that information to screen candidates? What happens when a senior lawyer decides to follow a junior colleague on Twitter? Will it be considered “backing” an employee and does it require the employee’s consent?
In both these cases, the boundaries between the employee’s personal and professional life are blurred. Workers and employers are navigating new territories as they try to balance workers’ rights with the company’s legitimate business interests.
Considering the variety of activities that can take place in social networks, it is only natural that there is a conflict between the employer’s interests and the privacy rights of its employees.
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As a result of these conflicting needs and interests, employers can find themselves with unhappy or disengaged employees, negative, time-consuming and costly employment disputes and even lawsuits, fines and sanctions. There has been a significant increase in recent years in lawsuits and cases involving employee privacy violations that primarily occur on social media.
This is a summary of some of the issues to consider when a company is thinking about employee privacy laws regarding social media.
Employee privacy laws are regulations that cover employee privacy rights related to their employment. Employee privacy laws define the boundaries between an employee’s right to privacy while balancing an employer’s rights to protect itself from harm or damage that may result from an employee’s activities.
Privacy laws may vary by region or industry. Different countries, states and territories have introduced different laws regarding employees’ rights to personal privacy, data protection and work-related rights. For example, in the United States, personal privacy may extend to the right to free speech, which is protected in the Constitution.
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Regional and country-specific laws directly affect employees’ rights to use social media in the workplace and employers’ rights to monitor those employees’ activities.
Employee privacy laws also vary across industries. In the United States, various regulators, particularly those in the health, financial services, telecommunications and insurance industries, have the authority to promulgate and enforce privacy regulations.
Employees are also not immune from the consequences. They may be surprised to learn the limits of their privacy rights when using social media.
The result is a complex web of employee privacy laws that must be navigated by employers even as social media and related laws and regulations change rapidly.
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We’ll take a look at these seven different types and explore how each can affect your workplace social media policy.
In the United States, various employment discrimination laws are put in place to protect people in certain “classes” or groups from being discriminated against in the workplace. There are many federal and state laws that describe how these “classes” are protected.
The most important federal law preventing discrimination in the workplace is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Individual states have also created other layers of employment protection under state law.
In social networks, the danger of using this kind of protected information is obvious. People often share a lot of personal information on their social media profiles. An employer may directly or indirectly access information on an employee’s personal social media account that may be considered “secure.”
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Philip Gordon, an attorney with the law firm Littler Mendelson in Denver, Colorado, has written extensively about workplace privacy and online surveillance. According to an interview with Consumer Reports, Gordon suggests that “a series of birthday wishes may reflect the age of the applicant”. Therefore, employers are advised to use caution when searching for or screening candidates on social media.
Employers who use social media to recruit, hire or screen potential employees or to monitor current employees should be particularly careful about collecting any personal information from their employees. Since this information is considered “protected,” an employer who collects or uses any of this information may be at risk of being charged with discrimination.
To avoid accusations of illegal behavior, many companies now employ consultants, thereby preventing internal staff teams from using social media in illegal and illegal ways.
In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution states that the following rights belong to its citizens:
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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and from government Ask to have their grievances redressed.- First Amendment, United States Constitution
In the most recent and high-profile case, a worker in Northern Virginia was fired by his employer shortly after a tripped-up motorcycle passed him on his morning bike ride. Julie Briskman was fired by Akima, her employer after she told them she was on the bike that was in the highly publicized photo.
Does an employee have the right to post their personal opinion (or in this case photo) on their personal social media account? An employer’s workplace social media policy may state that an employee must follow certain business standards or be subject to consequences. From Ms. Briskman, his employer felt his behavior was not in accordance with their company policy – hence the dismissal.
The challenge for workers and employers is that on social media, many people feel that the First Amendment gives them the right to say anything, to anyone, at any time.
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In fact, social media is often used as a megaphone mainly because of its ability to reach a wider audience.
While employees have certain rights regarding personal privacy, companies also have the right to expect a certain standard of behavior from their employees. In the case of Ms. Braxman, however, was entitled to his own opinion
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