Training News

Privacy Training on Electronic Monitoring: A Case Study

When conducting privacy training on electronic monitoring, share the following case study with your employees:

  • In this case, Janice Collins complains to her supervisor Bill Smith that one of her male co-workers, Jerry Bartolli, is viewing pornographic websites on the job.
  • Furthermore, Collins says that Bartolli has been sending sexually explicit e-mails to several female co-workers in the office, but that her co-workers are too embarrassed to complain.
  • Supervisor Smith consults the HR manager about the matter. They review the company’s electronic monitoring policy together and decide that monitoring is clearly warranted in this case.
  • The decision is made to monitor Bartolli’s e-mail and Internet use.

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Has the company made the right decision or is it invading the privacy of this employee?

  • The company is probably safe in its decision to monitor this employee. Using a company computer to view pornographic websites and using e-mail to sexually harass co-workers are inappropriate uses of company systems.
  • Monitoring this employee’s e-mail and Internet use will not present a privacy problem if the company maintains its own e-mail and Internet systems for internal use only.
  • However, if the system is maintained by an outside provider, management should obtain the consent of either the employee, the recipients of the e-mails, or the outside provider in order to avoid violating federal and/or state privacy laws.
  • But employers do not have to wait for a situation to arise before obtaining consent. Employers can obtain consent from employees in advance by having each employee sign a consent form stating that the employee understands that the company may monitor their Internet and e-mail use. Another effective method for obtaining employee consent is to install a feature on the Internet/e-mail system that informs employees that by logging on, they consent to the monitoring.

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These are great points to help your trainees understand privacy issues. But there are many other employment issues your employees need to learn. Where can you go to get good training information on a number of employment topics?