California Labor &
Employment Law Blog
Dec 15, 2009

Supreme Court To Address Electronic Privacy in the Workplace

Topics: Court Decisions, Workplace Privacy

The United States Supreme Court has granted review in Quon v. Arch Wireless, which deals with the increasingly emerging issue of the scope of an employee's privacy in electronic messages sent using employer-provided equipment. Our previous post regarding the Quon case is here. Although the case deals with a public employer and is, therefore,specifically focused on the scope of Fourth Amendment privacy protection involving the use of text messaging in a fairly case-specific factual setting, the case may well provide somebroader insight on theSupreme Court's view toward privacy issues in the electronic era that will be of use to private sector employers as well. In the meantime,employers grappling with monitoring of employee electronic usage are best advised to have clear policies signed off on by employees, making clear that employees do not have an expectation of privacy in their usage of employer provided equipment and that the employer can and will monitor such usage. Because there generally is not a "one-size-fits all" policy for all employment situations, employers are best advised to consult with counsel in drafting a comprehensive policy. We will continue to provide updates regarding significant developments in the Quon case, and similar workplace privacy cases affecting California employers.

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