Employee Privacy Report
??? Write a 1,050- to 1,200-word report addressing e-mail, Internet use, and privacy policies. Answer the following questions in your report:
o What are the e-mail use, Internet use, and privacy policies at your job
The email policy at my job at the Florida Foundation for Families (hereinafter ???FFF???) are that work email is strictly to be used for work purposes and not for personal use. The policy is covered in our Employee Handbook, and states that the rationale for the policy is that we should only be working during work time, and that if we were to use work email for private use, it could expose the company to internet threats that would otherwise be easily avoidable. For instance, if we were to use email for private use and were to open an attachment that contained a virus, we could potentially jeopardize the entire system??™s network. During our break periods and lunch we are allowed to use private email accounts, but we are likewise instructed not to open any attachments on our work computers in order to avoid the same threat that would be posed by using our private email accounts for such purposes.
Like our email policy, the internet is supposed to only be used for work purposes as well, however, since work purposes aren??™t strictly defined there is definitely more leeway in how we can use the internet, since we could be looking at an article in an online magazine or newspaper that??™s work related. We are still forbidden from using any networking sites, like facebook and myspace, since we would be using the internet for non-work purposes. Fortunately, however, like the email policy, we are also allowed to use the internet for personal use during break and lunch periods, but we are strictly forbidden from accessing any obscene or offensive material. This policy is strictly enforced since our organization caters to the development of good families, and it would hurt the organization??™s image if a family member saw anything obscene on someone??™s computer.
We are also told in the Employee Handbook that we have no expectation of privacy whatsoever in our work emails and whatever information may be on our work computers. FFF states that this is due to the fact that the computers are FFF??™s property, not ours, and since they are supposed to be used primarily for work purposes (except during breaks and lunch), we should keep anything private we want to do with computers to our computers at home.
o What are the current laws regulating employee e-mail and Internet privacy
Currently, there is no Florida law that protects an employee from having their work email and work computer accessed by management, so there is no right to privacy that extends to work. In large part, this is based on the fact that an employee has a diminished expectation of privacy in his or her work email and internet usage, since in exchange for being employed by the company,the employee is sacrificing that expectation of privacy. This policy is consistent with an employer??™s ability to drug test an employee, since again the employee chooses to sacrifice his or her privacy for employment.
o Why do companies implement e-mail and Internet use policies
As I alluded to above, I believe the primary reason for companies to implement these policies is to make it clear that employees should be working during work time, and the fact that they have internet connections should not affect that fundamental policy. Additionally, due to the fear of an employee downloading a file that contains a virus or a Trojan horse, the company has a substantial interest in restricting employees??™ usage, so they are not possibly exposed to these threats. A virus, for instance, could be spread throughout the network and might wind up costing the company thousands of dollars to repair whatever damage it caused. Additionally, a Trojan Horse could be even more damaging, since it could allow a hacker access to private information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank accounts, of the familes??™ who seek our assistance, who are already in a troubled financial state.
o What assumptions might employees make about their privacy at work How do these policies affect employee privacy at work
If employees are unaware of their employers??™ policies, many may believe that they have an expectation o fprivacyin their work email and whatever is on their work computer. Some may believe that their employer could look at the contents of their email of their browser history, but probably most believe that their employer would need to have some justification for doing so, such as a suspicion that the employee is stealing from the company or sending inappropriate emails.
Others may believe that they can use the internet and email for private purposes as well as work purposes, and that they would only violate their employers??™ policy if they were to send something offensive using their work account to other co-workers.
On the other hand, if the employee has to go through a background check, drug testing, or some other procedure that may inquire into his past or require him to divulge certain information he would otherwise believe was protected by his right to privacy, he may be significantly less likely to believe that his email and internet usage are private and could not be accessed by his employer. For instance, many employers require, or are mandated under state law, to conduct background checks on their employees, including inquires into their criminal histories if they have them.
The state of Florida requires that individuals in certain sensitive positions, such as those dealing with children undergo these background checks, which include their criminal records. See FloridaLabor Code ?§?§ 435.03 & 435.04. These employees would probably be much less likely to be under the false assumption that their work computers are their private property while they work for the company, and would probably be more likely to suspect that they could have their files checked. (_See _Sledge v. Department of Children and Families, holding that a home health care aide could be disqualified from sensitive employment for a conviction he sustained in 1992, although the statutes that authorized the sensitive employment background checks, Florida Labor Code Sections 435.03 and 435.04 did not become effective until 1995).
Thus, those in sensitive employment positions where they were subject to significant employment screening would probably be much less likely to think that they have a privacy interest in their emails and internet usage than those who do not have to undergo these screening procedures.
o Paper must include one outside reference.