Workplace Privacy Essay

3560 words - 14 pages

Workplace Privacy

Background

As a director for the American Red Cross of Santa Monica, not only am I constantly faced with policy and personnel conflicts, I am also responsible for finding solutions to those conflicts. Recently, I was charged with the task of finding a solution to a problem we (as a chapter) had never dealt with before.

The American Red Cross is an apolitical organization. During the recent elections, a supervisor in my office sent out emails to many of our colleagues and her friends stating her opinion regarding Proposition 22 (the proposition referring to the status of gay relationships). She was strongly against the issue, and was encouraging everyone to get out and vote against this proposition.

The supervisor used her email account at the American Red Cross of Santa Monica to get her message out. Each employee’s email account identifies the Red Cross of Santa Monica in its address. Although the supervisor was acting as a concerned citizen and by no means meant to make her statements as a Red Cross representative, that is exactly how many people who received the message took it. Red Cross clients, volunteers, and staff complained about this supervisor using her Red Cross email to send out her political message.

The supervisor made two very large mistakes. Firstly, she sent out a personal message on her company email account. Secondly, she sent that message to business associates, not just friends.

The Red Cross of Santa Monica management made two large mistakes as well. Firstly, we had not developed an email/internet policy. Secondly, management would have not known about the situation if people had not complained. There is no monitoring system in place to protect Red Cross Santa Monica and its image from conflicts such as this one.

It is because of this situation that I began to investigate email/internet policies and the topic of privacy in the workplace. What follows in this report are my findings on these issues.

Summary

If you are reading this paper at work, chances are your boss may be reading it right along with you and you do not know it. Employers have a legitimate interest in monitoring their employees in the workplace. Besides efficiency and productivity, employers want to protect their agencies from possible employee misconduct, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Current legal trends seem to indicate that employer interests are going to be given deference, especially if the workplace continues to experience signs of increased destructive behaviors (thefts, workplace violence, copyright infringement, etc.). At times, employee surveillance is viewed as absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, there are virtually no clear-cut laws that regulate employee monitoring in the workplace. In order to protect yourself, understand your employer’s policy on employee monitoring and know your privacy rights if your employer abuses...

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