Recent developments in privacy law and a rise in class action lawsuits related to data collection offer a cautionary tale about understanding legal and ethical boundaries of monitoring “on-the-clock” employee conduct. With a hodgepodge of federal, state, and local legislation governing employee privacy rights, employers are often left to navigate a complicated legal landscape while balancing the practical need to understand how employees are using company information and equipment. Employers, for example, have a legitimate interest in protecting company trade secrets, detecting unlawful transmission of unlicensed material, and improving work productivity. Employees, on the other hand, may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in certain contexts while at work.
This quandary begs the question, where do employers draw the line?