Can we ban personal cell phones at work?

Q. Almost all our employees carry personal cell phones and seem to be calling or texting during work hours. Can we require them to put their phones in their lockers at the beginning of their shifts? — E.T., Florida

A. Employees don’t have the legal right to carry cell phones at work and you can certainly require them to place the phones and other electronic devices—like music players and cameras—in their lockers. In addition, you can limit how much time employees spend on personal calls using company equipment.

While this may seem draconian to some employees, personal digital devices can be very distracting and even dangerous. For example, if an employee is driving on company business and answers a personal call on her cell phone, causing an accident, the company may be liable. Likewise, you don’t want employees photographing sensitive company materials or recording conversations.