Our Maryland Employment Lawyer Outlines Workplace Privacy Policies
With the proliferation of technology, workplace privacy has become a growing concern for both employers and employees. And as developments in technology outpace changes in the law, the issue of privacy has become increasingly complex. What privacy rights do employees have, and what can employers do to maintain a safe, productive, and efficient workplace? An experienced Maryland employment lawyer can help you navigate this dilemma.
Internet and Email
Some of the most common questions a Maryland employment lawyer receives pertain to an employee’s use of the internet and email. It is very easy for privacy concerns to arise when employees can access their personal email and other online accounts while at work. While employers have the right to ensure that their employees are being productive, they are not entitled to “spy” on their employees.
That said, employees have virtually no privacy rights if they access the internet or their personal email account via their employer’s computers or networks. Employers can not only install filters and block specific websites, they can even monitor employees’ internet and email usage. This means that an employer may view an employee’s private communications or have access to other personal information. It’s important to also keep in mind that this may be the case if you are using your own device but on your employer’s WiFi.
“Bring Your Own Device” May Require Clarification and Policies Place in Writing
Many employers are implementing “bring your own device” or BYOD policies. Allowing employees to use their own phone or laptop helps reduce employers’ technology costs. Employees also find these policies attractive because they do not have to carry a dedicated “work” phone, laptop, or other devices. However, BYOD policies raise some rather complicated issues regarding workplace privacy. Employers have the right to ensure that their network is secure and promotes productivity but should not be able to monitor private communications or other information that isn’t work-related.
A Maryland employment lawyer can help employers develop and implement a common-sense BYOD policy that helps employees understand their rights and limits while using the company network.
Other Privacy Issues That Can Lead to a Maryland Employment Lawsuit
Privacy issues aren’t limited to employees’ use of the internet and email. Here are some other areas where privacy issues can arise in the workplace:
- Hiring: Employers are limited as to what information they can require or questions they can ask about a candidate’s criminal, medical or salary history. There are also limitations on when an employer can obtain a candidate’s credit report.
- Personnel files: Because personnel files contain an employee’s personal information, employers must handle them carefully and take steps to ensure that only authorized employees can access them.
- Drug and alcohol screening: Employers have the right to conduct drug and alcohol screening if related to a legitimate business purpose but must adhere to strict procedures regarding such tests.
Contact a Maryland Employment Attorney for Guidance