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Northern California Employment Law Attorneys
Privacy Issues

Sacramento Privacy Issues Lawyer

Your Privacy Rights Are at Risk at Work in California

In America, we value our privacy. Even those of us who frequently post tweets and status updates to our social media accounts, can become indignant and offended when someone whom we did not intend to receive or read our message intercepts or becomes aware of our communications. Our expectation of privacy often carries over into the workplace. While we may instinctively know that our privacy expectations are less at work than at home, it can become difficult to know when our privacy rights have been violated at work.

Contact the Law Offices of Gay Carroll-Haring today if you feel your privacy has been unlawfully invaded at work.

Your Rights to Privacy in California: E-Mails and Social Media Accounts

Your privacy rights when it comes to e-mail messages and social media accounts depend on whether the device used to access these services is owned by your employer or by you.

If the device is yours, you will likely be found to have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to:

  • E-mails
  • Tweets
  • Posts
  • Multimedia contained in that device

Absent exceptional circumstances, your employer may not access that device. Nor can your employer lawfully demand that you provide him or her with access to that device under California law.

But if your device is owned by your employer, you may not have a legitimate expectation of privacy for non-work communication. Employers generally have the right to review, monitor, and search through employee e-mails for valid business reasons. Even in California, however, your employer cannot require you to provide him or her with passwords to your e-mail account or any social media account you may have.

Your Rights to Privacy in California: Phone Calls and Messages

Regardless of whether you use a company phone or a personal cell phone to make a call at work, you have a legitimate expectation that your communication will be private. Your employer may not monitor calls of a personal nature without your consent. (Note that calls of a business nature – i.e., calls you receive and reply to as part of your job as a customer service agent – may be monitored and reviewed by your employer.)

This expectation of privacy extends to your voice mails as well. Voice mails received by your work phone cannot be intercepted and diverted to your employer without your knowledge and consent. Be warned, however, that your employer may be able to lawfully access your messages if they are stored on a company phone system and your employer has lawful access to this central system.

Your Rights to Privacy in California: Drug Tests

In certain cases, employers can request that their employees submit to tests to determine whether you have any illegal substances in your system. Not all employees are able to be randomly tested for drugs; typically only those employees who would be at risk of suffering a great deal of harm if they were under the influence of drugs (like a heavy machine operator) or those workers who have had issues with drug use in the past can be randomly tested.

When you believe your employer has violated your privacy rights, contact the Law Offices of Gay Carroll-Haring by calling 916-443-3553. I will evaluate your circumstances and advise you of what legal remedies you may be entitled to under the law.

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