In this paper the Constitutional Rights of individuals in the United States of America will be discussed. The theory of law gave the belief that all people have certain rights, which could not be taken away by others. Civil rights and discrimination rules were looked into by the court system, because of the various minority groups in society. This paper will describe the First Amendment in detail, Article 14 of the Bill of Rights, and analyze the impact it would have on businesses and its employees.
Constitutional RightsWhat is the U.S. Constitution? "The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the land" (University of Phoenix, pg. 10, 2004). Freedom of speech and an individual's right to privacy are rights that are incorporated into the U.S. Constitution and every American citizen is guaranteed these rights. These guarantees do not stop at the door of a workplace.
Employees should feel free to express themselves in an appropriate manner at work. The employee should also feel secure that their privacy will not be violated. This paper will analyze the affects the constitutional rights such as freedom of speech and the right to privacy has on the business and the employee.
The First Amendment, also referred to as Bill of Rights, was written by James Madison. This amendment was written into the U.S. Constitution as the first freedoms at America's initiation, because citizens demanded assurance of their freedoms. It was the blueprint of freedom and a hallmark to an open society. The First Amendment protects our freedom of speech, press, religion, the right to assembly, and petition. Without the First Amendment, religious minorities could be persecuted, prosecutors could be silenced, the press would not be able to criticize the government, and consumers could not mobilize for social change.
Should there be limits on freedom of speech? After all the First Amendment has no control over limits on speech one would set where they make the rules. The Government, which consists of three branches - Legislative, Executive, and Judicial, (2006) only, speaks of what Congress can do. There is nothing in the Constitution regarding the Executive or Judicial branch not limiting speech, which they do on a daily routine, as long as their best interest is involved (ÃÂ¶ 6).
Free speech could have an individual imprisoned for provoking another person. It could also be looked upon as reckless endangerment (2006). When one truly begins to think about freedom of speech, the question lies, is there truly such a thing? When our children are in school and deface school property, is this not a form of speech? Not to say that it is a right, but they will either be expelled or given detention for their actions, and persecuted because it disturbed an administrator. Freedom of speech in the U.S. is only free if it is within approved limits.
Article 14 of the Bill of Rights, the privacy right, states that "everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have - their person or home searched; their property searched; their possessions searched; or the privacy of their communications infringed (Human & Constitutional Rights, nd).
So how does this affect businesses and employees in the workplace? The Elias Group is a non-profit organization that is provides information, services and assistance to businesses wanting to contract with the U.S. government (The Elias Group, 2004). Their human resource department is an example of how the privacy of their employees and the specialists they provide services for can easily be corrupted. The employee files are not kept centralized in one place to keep a tighter control over. They are kept with each individual employee's manager. Not keeping the files and information centralized can compromise the employee's privacy because no one person is truly responsible for the information and can be easily tampered with. The time sheets, vacation requests and disciplinary actions for every employee are also handled by the individual managers (The Elias Group, 2004). There is no centralized tracking system so there are many ways for the privacy of employees to be compromised.
The information the Elias Group keeps on the specialists they provide services for is kept on an Access database. This is harmful to the specialists because it is easily attained by anyone in the company and contains not only their contact information but also the fee arrangements and any other information required to refer to these specialists to clients (The Elias Group, 2004).
Businesses want to ensure that their employees are not wasting company time on irrelevant tasks and so many businesses use some sort of monitoring program to track employee activity while at work. The Internet has been the biggest problem a business has in making sure their employees are not wasting time. "The misuse of information systems by your wired workers - whether through error or by intent - can result in leaked or corrupted data, crippled networks, lost productivity, legal problems, public embarrassment, and more" (Anonymous, 2007). Knowing how to monitor an employee's activity is a sensitive area for a business because of the fine line between monitoring and violating an employee's privacy. So what does this mean for the employee's privacy rights? Employees must be aware of the likelihood of the company monitoring the employees' activities. Employees must be careful of their activity on the Internet and how they use the company's resources, including time and the network, to conduct daily activities.
The U.S. Constitution has been the law of the land since the birth of the United States of America. "The U.S. Constitution is often referred to as a "living document" because it is so adaptable" (University of Phoenix, pg. 10, 2004). Being able to adapt is the key to bringing the Constitution up-to-date with the changing ways of the world. Even though the Constitution is adaptable, most of it has never needed to be changed or amended, and the freedom of speech and the rights of privacy are perfect examples. Businesses and employees both have these rights and finding the happy medium makes a harmonious workplace.
ReferencesAnonymous. (2007). The Visible Employee: Using Workplace Monitoring and Surveillanceto Protect Information Assets-Without Compromising Employee Privacy or Trust. Information Today. Vol.24, Iss. 4; pg. 40, 1 pgs. Retrieved on April 14, 2007 fromhttp://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=0&did=1252869801&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1176567912&clientId=2606Human & Constitutional Rights (nd). Privacy Right. Retrieved on April 14, 2007 fromhttp://www.hrcr.org/safrica/privacy/The Elias Group. (2004). Retrieved on April 13, 2007 fromhttps://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/aapd/CIST/VOP/Business/Elias/EliasHome001.htmUniversity of Phoenix. (Ed.). (2005). Business Law. [University of Phoenix Custom Editione-text]. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing. Retrieved April 13, 2007, from University of Phoenix, Resource, BUS/415-Business Law Web site: https://mycampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.aspAnonymous. (2006). Workplace Ethics: Rights of Employee's in the Workplace. Today's News. Retrieved on April 13, 2007.
www.firstamendmentcenter.org, Retrieved on April 13, 2007