Monday, December 6, 2010


Employees are becoming increasingly concerned about their privacy at work as their employers are monitoring them closely with electronic surveillance. Certain states have tried to prevent employee electronic monitoring but these efforts have not been successful so far.

Employers have some valid reasons for doing this but from their perspective they are also concerned in regards to what impact this will have on the employer-employee relationship. Despite the concern employers have for jeopardizing the relationship with their employees, more than 75% of companies said that monitoring helps them to combat personal use of Internet during business hours and making sure employees do not divulge company trade secrets or intellectual property.

This makes the employee feel that he is not trusted to be honest and responsible. The gaze is viewing them with suspicion and distrust and yet it’s an inevitable result of the new digital technologies in a postmodern society especially after 9/11. The ways that subjects regulate their own behavior, the panopticism, would involve employees using company time to only do their work assignments and employers being watchful of employees behavior without violating the respect each employee deserves. Employers should develop effective business equipment policies with the help of legal council to carry out their responsibilities without jeopardizing the workplace relationship. Employees would benefit from such a policy because they would know in advance how their employers monitor them.

The federal statute in this area is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The ECPA bars the intentional interception of any wire, oral or electronic communication, or the unauthorized access of stored communication.
The ECPA has three exceptions that include allowing employers to monitor business related phone calls, to monitor communications when there has been employee consent, and to retrieve and access stored email. Employers sharing this information will help avoid the negative aspect of this process. It will be viewed as a win-win situation for both the employer and employee.

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