The Right to Privacy for Employees and Their Email

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Master's February 2008

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Frustrated employees use company electronic mail (e-mail) to send messages threatening other employees with physical violence. Others use company e-mail to send and receive sexually explicit images, offensive jokes, chain letters or use company e-mail to place bets, or even worse, to operate an illegal gambling ring. Employee advocacy groups assert that it is unethical for employers to monitor employees? e-mail because it violates employees? privacy rights (Coelho). While employees may feel that their privacy is being violated, there are many reasons why a company should monitor their employees e-mail.

The first reason why companies monitor their employees e-mail, is to protect themselves from harmful events. The company may engage in monitoring employees? e-mail messages for valid business purposes, including employee supervision. All employees will be informed of such monitoring and will be required to consent to such monitoring as a condition of employment. ?Employers have a legitimate interest in keeping track of how their employees spend their work hours: after all, no one wants workers surfing x-rated website, sending offensive email or calling in bets on the ponies on the company's dime.

Employers may want to take steps to make sure employees are not giving trade secrets to competitors, engaging in illegal conduct at work or using company communications equipment to harass their co-workers? (?Monitoring Your Employees' Email?). As employees download materials from their e-mail to computer workstations, it was found that 85% detected computer viruses. ?The Melissa virus alone has been estimated to cost businesses many millions of pounds. The ?iloveyou? virus went Page 2 around the world in a matter of hours, infecting many large and small companies? systems. The cost of virus attacks worldwide in 2000 is reported to cause business damages totaling US $17.1bn (£12bn)? (Panesar). Disgruntled employees can sell company information to other companies...