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Legal Matters: Privacy in the Workplace

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Today we are going to talk about privacy in the workplace. In Michigan, does an employer have the right to read your emails, listen to your phone calls, or video you in the workplace? The surprising answer is "most likely." The issue is whether it is an invasion of privacy. In order for an individual to bring a claim for invasion of privacy in Michigan, there has to be proof that the individual has a legitimate expectation of privacy. In the workplace, an individual may have an expectation of privacy, but Courts have held that expectation is not legitimate. Indeed, Courts have found that employers have legitimate business reasons to monitor employees including their e-mail communication, phone calls, and in the workplace. Employers have an interest in monitoring productivity, preventing workplace harassment, and may be required to review emails for business reasons. Because of these legitimate reasons, employees generally have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace.

Even though employers may have a legal right to monitor employees, employers should advise employees when and how they are being monitored. This way employees will not feel as if their privacy has been invaded as much, if they have knowledge of the monitoring.

Information provided by Julie Gafkay of Gafkay Law.