Workers of the world are exposed to many types of privacy-invasive monitoring while earning a living. These include drug testing, closed-circuit video monitoring, Internet monitoring and filtering, E-mail monitoring, instant message monitoring, phone monitoring, location monitoring, personality and psychological testing, and keystroke logging. Employers do have an interest in monitoring in order to address security risks, sexual harassment, and to ensure the acceptable performance of employees. However, these activities may diminish employee morale and dignity, and increase worker stress.
Technology has greatly increased employers’ ability to monitor employees both at work and outside of work. At the same time, technologies like smart phones and social networking sites have blurred the lines between business and personal, public and private.
While gone are the days where Henry Ford would inspect the homes of workers, employers have new means to acquire information about employees, and these new means require a reevaluation of basic fairness in the employee-employer relationship.
Many workers are not protected with due process guarantees against arbitrary discharge. Absent state law or contract, employers can often dismiss an employee for any reason, or no reason, even if the decision to terminate is based on false information.
At the same time, increased employee monitoring powers raise the risk that false inferences can be drawn about employee contact.
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