Work Place Monitoring: How much is too much?
To Snoop or Not to Snoop?
What limits are there to employers' intrusions into, and/or control over, employees behaviors? To what extent is monitoring an employee acceptable? Interestingly, there are plenty of studies and surveys that indicate that this business practice is definitely on the rise. An illustration of this growth can be seen in a feature article by U.S. News and World Reports, (April 2001) which includes statistics on the growth of companies that monitor their employees from 1997 to 2001.
Percentage of companies that monitor employees...1997 2001
Total active monitoring* 35.3 pct. 77.7 pct.
Monitoring Internet connections** 54.162.8
Storage and review of E-mail messages 14.946.5
Storage and review of computer files 13.736.1
Recording/reviewing phone conversations 10.411.9
Storage and review of voice-mail messages 5.311.8
*Excluding telephone logs, logging on/off computer, and normal videosurveillance for security purposes. **2000 figure.
Employee privacy is one of the most controversial areas concerning personnel in the public sector.
Claims of privacy abuse are measured against an employer's prerogatives in establishing workplace standards and ensuring the efficiency of administration.
Monitoring of employees in the workplace can create conflicts between employer and employee. The problems increase as technological advances change the nature of work, communication, and supervisory functions in the workplace. This conflict reconsiders the basic questions as to what is private, what is proprietary, what legal rights an employee possesses, and what are an employee's obligations and responsibilities within the sphere of employment.
To most, privacy is seen as need for "personal space", which is directly tied to the Fourth Amendment, which holds that, "It is the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures."
Privacy in the workplace has also been asserted on the...