Q. If we suspect an employee is violating a company policy prohibiting harassment, can we monitor the employee’s e-mails?
A. Under Minnesota law, employees may sue their employers for invasion of privacy under certain circumstances.
Your company should have a written policy that notifies employees that computers and electronic communication systems should be used for business purposes and that improper usage is prohibited.
To minimize the chance of a judge or jury holding that an employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy, the policy should warn employees that computers may be monitored and that discipline may be imposed for the improper use of company computers. The company should also obtain the written consent of its employees to monitoring by requiring the employees to sign an acknowledgment that they received the policy or an containing the policy.
Access to employees’ electronic communications should be limited to those employees who have a business reason for monitoring e-mails and who regularly deal with employee discipline issues. Those employees should be trained to treat the information obtained from employee computers as confidential.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- 10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review
- When employee complains of bias or harassment, beware acting in ways that look like retaliation
- Joint-employer status may come down to who cuts the paychecks
- Supreme Court outlook: All quiet on employment-law front
- Unlike employees, partners can't pursue bias claims under employment laws