Privacy at Work? ... Not Really.

Social media and mobile technology is everywhere, including in the workplace.  Workers are using their personal devices for work and work devices for personal issues.  This trend is being driven by consumerization, when employees use consumer technology as a replacement for their company issued computer or phone.    

One aspect of consumerization is "bring your own device" or BYOD.  A typical scenario is that employers allow employees to select their own chosen technology, such as a smart phone or tablet computer.  The company usually pays a portion of the monthly costs to offset the work related usage.  But does that entitle the company to more?  Can employees' messages, email, and location be tracked?  Likely, yes.

Employees take and make personal calls or send emails on these devices without thinking about it.  They post updates to various social media and take keepsake photos.  But what happens when the device is stolen or the employee leaves the company?  Companies utilize mobile device management software that enables them to control devices to protect the company's interests, but that may come at the employee's expense.  

For example, it is a common practice to erase or wipe the data off a lost or stolen device.  Phone is missing, there goes the photos of the dance recital along with the company data.  A lawsuit is filed and the phone is inspected as part of discovery, now those private emails to family and friends are not so private.

Sure, employees have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy.  However, company policies may set that expectation and it can be surprising to find out how little privacy should be expected.  With the law evolving in this area, companies and individuals should pose questions to qualified advisors.

Anderson Law Firm, PLC
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Milford, MI  48381

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