Imagine a marketing manager receives an email joke with a racial slur then continues to forward it to a group of co-workers. A few months later, the company is being investigated and tried in a court case of racism. This situation escalated extremely fast and is a paradigm of why employers must monitor their employee’s technological activities in the workplace (Gaudin).
In today’s world, technology is extremely advanced and continues to progress with new innovations. As new technology is created, personal privacy diminishes. The newest technologies make informational property easily accessible; therefore, privacy violations have recently become more prevalent. Property such as computer emails, documents, etc. are specifically put at risk due to the advancement of technology. Although personal emails and other aspects of one’s computer should have set privacy boundaries, computers and email addresses distributed by a corporation should be subject to monitoring. Employees should not expect privacy of any means on their work-mandated computer, especially in regard to emails. Although employees may feel violated by email monitoring, they are simply distracted by a false expectation of privacy. Despite these concerns, employers should have the right to monitor employee email because the motive to protect company liability, reputation and tangible assets is legitimate.
In general, employers have the right to read their employee’s emails, unless there is a company policy or contract that assures complete privacy (Crowther 357-63). For example, companies can provide a “confidential” option for emails or allow for a private password (Crowther 358). Many companies, however, choose against these options because monitoring is far more beneficial. Furthermore, courts, for the most part, have upheld an employer’s right to oversee employee email, especially if there is a compelling reason to do so (Crowther 359). Jacques Cohen simply states, “Email messages are not private. Managers can legally intercept, monitor, and read employees’ email.” (Cohen 40)
Email has become the most convenient and common form of communication for businesses. As Meir S. Hornung explains, email has the “ability to widely transmit large amounts of data instantaneously” and it has “emerged as an essential tool for increasing productivity and efficiency in the workplace” (Hornung 120). This is because it is a written form of communication that can be referred back to numerous times. Emails can also serve as contracts and legalized documents between two individuals. When information is written in an email, it has a dimension of permanence and sincerity. Because of the seriousness of email communication, employee’s interactions must be completely professional. If email content does not reflect an employee’s business in an appropriate manner, the company can face serious problems. As Gaudin explains in her article, “A company is liable for most wrongs that its employees commit using...