Surveillance inthe WorkplaceLuis Medina and Rick Lizotte
Background• Privacy not among Constitutional rights• But Fourth Amendment—right against unreasonable search and seizure• Not much law about privacy until end of the 19 th century• Invention of microphone and telephone—new threats to privacy• 1890—Supreme Court Justice wants right to privacy from wiretapping, not only house searches• 1986—Electronic Communications Privacy Act—allows employer right to monitor business but not personal communication
Background• Computer networks and new camera equipment allow better monitoring of the workplace• Employers can fire for any reason not covered by law• Employers often look for misuse of computer, stealing, drug use and alcohol use, lack of productivity• More extreme—camera in locker room/bathroom; contract not to smoke or drink at home to prevent use of medical insurance later
The Controversy• Some people believe electronic surveillance is good for security, safety, and productivity.• Others believe it is a violation of privacy rights and should not be used.• My opinion—use of electronic surveillance good if only used to protect employees and not to violate privacy. From the movie 1984
Arguments For Workplace Surveillance1. The use of electronic surveillance increases worker productivity2. Helps to prevent accidents at work3. Essential for the protection of employees4. May prevent employee theft and harassment by other employees5. May provide a way to make work evaluation objective
Arguments Against Workplace Surveillance1. Employees have the right to privacy in some areas of workplace2. Surveillance creates a hostile environment which makes employees fearful and unhappy3. Employers don’t know how to separate the public from the private—what is in the workplace from what is in the home4. Surveillance provides an opportunity for sexual harassment by employer or security personnel
My Conclusion• Electronic surveillance may be necessary to secure safety and productivity• However, electronic surveillance must never violate the employees’ rights to privacy and cause bad feeling in the workplace• Workers need to be notified of surveillance• Finally, where does the employers right to monitor us stop?
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