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Northern California Employment Law Attorneys
Employee Privacy

Employee Privacy in Sacramento

You Have Certain Limited Privacy Protections at Work

Even though our society seems to have become much more open and fond of sharing information with one another, we still tend to be rather private individuals. We want to control what information other individuals are able to learn about us and how they are able to learn this information. When information or facts about us (especially unflattering facts) become public information without our knowledge or consent, we become (understandably) upset.

But we are not always entitled to the same level of privacy everywhere we go. For example, we expect that a conversation held around the dinner table will be considered more private than a loud conversation with a friend at a local restaurant. What level of privacy can a California worker expect on the job?

A Duty to Protect Privacy Interests

The employer is ultimately responsible for ensuring that his or her workers’ privacy interests and rights are protected. This can often require a business owner to strike a careful balance between respecting workers’ autonomy and right to privacy with the business owner’s desire to ensure his or her employees are bettering the owner’s business. Business owners should take reasonable measures to protect an employee’s privacy rights: failure to do so can land a business in hot water.

What Privacy Rights of Workers Are Protected By California and Federal Law?

State and federal laws give certain privacy rights to California workers while they are on the job.

As a result, employees can expect that:

  • They will not be recorded or videotaped in restrooms or changing rooms without their knowledge and consent;
  • They will not be required to submit to drug tests as part of their employment except when (1) drug use on the job could endanger the life of the worker or others; (2) the employee has had trouble with drugs on the job in the past; and/or (3) the employee is exhibiting signs of drug use while on the job;
  • They will not be asked for personal social media or access to their personal social media accounts. “Social media” would include texts, e-mails, pictures, videos, and other similar information that can be “posted” online or transmitted online;
  • They will not be asked for the password to their personal electronic devices unless the device belongs to the employer;
  • They will not have their personal phone calls recorded or listened to, even if the call is made using a business telephone;
  • Their voice mails will not be intercepted or listened to without their authorization or consent unless those voicemails are stored in a central location accessible by the employer; and
  • That personal identifying information about them will be kept in a secure location and not shared with anyone absent the employee’s consent.

An employer who violates these rights can cause a significant amount of emotional distress and mental trauma to the victimized employee. As a result, employees should not agree to employment contract terms that ask them to give up privacy rights guaranteed to them by federal and state laws. What is more, your employer may not take retaliatory measures against you for refusing to give up or waive your privacy rights.

If you believe your employer has violated your rights to privacy, you may have legal options available to you. Contact the Law Offices of Gay Carroll-Haring by calling 916-443-3553.

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