Electronic Monitoring and the Employee

Essay by cbuttonsUniversity, Master'sA-, August 2007

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It is almost commonplace today that when newly hired, an employee is requested to sign an Electronic Monitoring policy supplied by their employer. It explains the new employer's intent as to email, phones, internet, and other on the job electronic aides and their ability to monitor how employee's use company property. As new hires, do we really know what that document means to our day-to-day working situations? Our internet habits, phone conversations or e-mail's are not always something we would want our employers to know about, yet based on current precedent in the courts, employees have no right to privacy when using company equipment. Most employers monitor electronic usage to maintain efficiency. Depending on your employer's stand on usage of electronic devices, employees may be putting their jobs in danger. Nancy Flynn, executive director of the ePolicy Institute in Columbus, Ohio, says the provisions of the act can be translated this way: "The computer system is the property of the employer and as such the employer has the right to monitor Internet activity and e-mail.

Employees should have no reasonable expectation to privacy."1There are two well-known cases that have set precedent for electronic monitoring, Michael A Smyth vs. the Pillsbury Company2 and Bonita P. Bourke vs. Nissan Motor Corporation in the USA3. In the Nissan case, the plaintiffs, Bonnie Bourke and Rhonda Hall were hired as Information Systems Specialist to assist Infiniti car dealerships to resolve problems with the computer systems. Employees were aware that the company could randomly monitor email. During a training session, a co-worker of the plaintiffs was demonstrating the usage of email and randomly selected a message sent by Bourke to an employee of the dealership. The email was of a personal and sexual nature. Bourke was reported to a supervisor, who then reviewed a number...