Surveillance at Workplace – How Much is Too Much?
We are living in a world where the lines of right and wrong are indeed blurred when it comes to surveillance at a workplace. As much as we’d like to trust the people we surround ourselves with and keep the security levels to the minimum, we know that no two individuals are the same i.e. if we have siblings working for the same company, and one of them is leaking confidential information to your competitors, it does not mean that his or her sibling is the same.
What’s more is, companies usually have to face lawsuits due to the surveillance system being in excess or sometimes the lack of it. Since most companies often tread on the edge of this pesky matter, we have come up with a list of events where surveillance may be a tad bit much in any respectable workspace, no matter how shady your employees are.
- Installing Camera in Sensitive Areas
If you’re a manager or a director at any workplace, it is important for you to know what your employees are up to. As far as you know, they could be leaking sensitive information to your rival companies or stealing from you, both of which could be devastating for your company. Other than that it is important to make sure that your employees are doing their work efficiently. For both these cases, video surveillance is the best way to monitor your employees. Through video, you can not only see firsthand what your employees are doing, but also record the said video and use it as evidence if your employee has committed some indiscretion.
But, the same video surveillance can also be used for malicious purposes by placing the video cameras in places like the locker room and restroom, where they not only invade personal privacy but are unlawful and immoral as well, and also can be used to sue such a company legally. Additionally, unless you have physical evidence in other forms that point towards such areas as breeding grounds for unlawful activities, the employer has no right to install cameras or other monitoring devices in such areas.
- Stalking a Co-worker Using Company Database
Now, it is common knowledge that the company you work for knows every single detail about you. From your social security number to medical records to college transcripts to criminal records, they know it all, and they keep detailed records of such things. Such details prove to be critical for the company to protect themselves and the company’s image by hiring people with a clean background. Additionally, such data is also useful if an employee starts indulging in crooked activities, making all the reasons to obtain such data quite reasonable.
Although such details are not accessible by everyone, using bribery and other means to access such data about a co-worker to get closer to them or to exploit them using such information for personal gain is a strict no-no and can result in a legal action against the said company.
- Looking through Private Data
- Looking through a computer sanctioned by Company? Allowed.
- Checking emails sent and received through company network? Allowed.
- Keeping an eye on browsing history when an employee is using the company bandwidth? Allowed.
- Browsing through your employee’s drawers and personal belongings? Not Allowed.
- Looking into your employee’s personal laptop? Not ALLOWED.
- Hacking into your employee’s social media account without their permission? DEFINITELY NOT ALLOWED.
That being said, it is evident enough that even though a company does have jurisdiction over the data that was shared using the company hardware and company network, they do not have the right to look into their employee’s personal data files, accounts, belongings, etc. unless they have an exquisite reason to do so.
- Bugging a Private Electronic Device or Automobile
This point sort of links in with the last one, but due to the seriousness of this situation, the need to emphasize it becomes quite necessary. When we say that a company has no right to an employee’s private life and private property, a reputable company should respect that. Unless a company has a valid reason and that reason might taint the company’s reputation, they cannot, under any circumstances, place a tracker on employee’s private automobile or install a bug on their cellular phone. This is way over the line, and any employer can face a legal lawsuit because of this.
- Spying on an Individual under the Guise of Monitoring
It is no new fact that some very sick people in this world take monitoring as a free pass to spy on people and invade their privacy. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that such people are dealt with accordingly – Thousands of Dollars of fine and jail time, especially if the one being spied was a stalker.
The Bottom Line
As already mentioned, we are walking on the edge with issues about surveillance, since a single moment can change the circumstances and what was initially wrong becomes right. Thus, under such circumstances, the best thing one can do is getting a legal advice before taking a single step.