Whether they are Facebook, personal email, catching up on their favorite shows on Hulu or Amazon, or even playing video games, many people have made an art form out of multitasking. Some workplaces have banned access to certain sites in order to keep employees on task. Others monitor your computer in one way or another. But how much is your boss allowed to track? What can get you in trouble?
As long as you are on a company PDA, phone, tablet or computer, your company can monitor anything and everything you do. This includes anything you download, Internet use, documents on your computer, websites you visit, and how long you're there, computer usage, typing speed, instant messages, and emails. This monitoring can include screening anything you write for keywords, monitoring where you go online and how long you are there. They most common reasons supervisors monitor employee computer use is to monitor total company bandwidth, exposure to viruses, exposure, harassment, and finally, if workers are wasting time.
Your company should clearly outline its Internet policy in the employee handbook. A good Internet use policy should cover things like when you're being monitored, what kind of monitoring is administered, how the data is used and any existing rules about personal use of company equipment.
You may have more protection for communications at work if you're part of a union, or if you are communicating with other coworkers about your working conditions. In addition, if you're fired for writing emails about something at work that's illegal, such as rule breaking by your company, discrimination or harassment, you may also be protected by whistleblower laws. These laws do not guarantee that you can't be fired or that you will get your job back if you are, but they do give you legal recourse for restitution if you are fired for bringing illegal activity to light.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
Our attorneys have more than 40 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.