Employee Privacy Torts Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Employee Privacy Torts

History of Employee Privacy

Changing Trends of Employee Privacy

Impact of Innovative Technology on Employee Privacy

Role of Social Media towards Employee Privacy

Impact of Changing Community/Society on Employee Privacy

Adaptation to the new Environment pertaining to Employee Privacy

Employee Monitoring and Surveillance

Laws and Employer Policies for Text Messaging and Social Media

Electronic Communication Privacy Act

Monitoring of Employee Conversations over Telephone & Email

Recommendations for creating Effective Policies

Future Implications of Employee Privacy

As years have passed and the human race has penetrated into the epoch of twenty first century, the technological advancements have conquered almost every facet of human life, especially the workplace. The widespread platform of the internet has become the integral part of a person's life, in the same manner as businesses are employing technological advancements to perform numerous activities like internet infrastructure, maintenance of computers and so on. It means that the human race is residing in a magnificent era where the flow of information is rapid and abundant, hence creating numerous opportunities for businesses to efficiently deal with the changing trends and be competent (Lane, 2003).

On the other hand, the advances of computer age and technology brings the gloomy side to the forefront that that other people now have a greater probability to monitor or record the lives of individuals, as nearly all transactions performed by humans create an electronic trail. This scrutiny has been observed to be increasingly elevating at the workplace as well, due to the reason that workplace has also become comprehensively dependent upon the computer technology to perform the business activities and functions. The monitoring of others' information brings the fact to the forefront that invasion of privacy at the workplace has become one of the grave social issues across the globe, as thousands of employees are confronting it on everyday basis (Lane, 2003).

Before moving ahead, it is imperative to understand of the concept of invasion of privacy. The personal and private information of an employee that include medical records, SSN number, family records and so on, as well as the activities performed at workplace is usually referred to as employee privacy rights. However, the invasion of privacy is typically defined as "one who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy, if the invasion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person" (Doherty, Helms, & Wright, 2005, p. 89). This means that if an individual intentionally access and scrutinize the private information or affairs of other person in an unauthorized way, then he or she violates the law of privacy and performs highly offensive act to the other person (whose private affairs have been intruded) (Doherty, Helms, & Wright, 2005).

With respect to the privacy rights of employees at workplace, this subject matter has become a hot topic of discussion and debate in the recent years. workplace employee privacy issues are based on several types. One of the types of employee's privacy issue in the workplace is related to the personal and private information of the employee and usually arises when this information is collected by the company for employment. While, another type of employee privacy issue is related to the employee's freedom at workplace and generally occurs when their privacy is breached due to the imposition of various rules and regulations by the employer (Lane, 2003).

The changing lifestyle with regard to the innovation in the technology and social media networking have become a significant contributing factor to the increased threat of employee privacy at workplace. Even though privacy issue of employees have been explicitly surfaced in various countries that include United States as well, yet, privacy rights of employees within the country have not been directly expressed in the laws, hence, the authoritative bodies have created a tort for this issue, which is a type of law where the infringed party has the choice to seek compensation (Lane, 2003).

Laws pertaining to privacy rights have also been created and modified considering the seriousness of the issue. However, it is unfortunate to assert that terms and conditions of privacy parameters for the employees exhibit a discrepancy from state to state. In fact, it has also been observed that workers employed in the private sector are leveraged with smaller number of rights in comparison to the employees of the government sector. Nonetheless, these laws are the principal guidelines for both the parties (employees and employers) that privacy rights should be valued and maintained in order to have productive outputs (Lane, 2003).

History of Employee Privacy

Print media was one of the initial technological advancements that boomed in the nineteenth century. However, it was observed by various law professionals that print media is using the technological advances in an inappropriate manner that is invading the privacy to a significant degree. Nevertheless, historical evidences and records have illuminated the fact that the proposal for a tort action in support of the invasion of privacy was put forward in one of the law review article in the decade of 1890 (Nash, 2010).

This classic review article was considerably the first serious discussion on the rights of privacy in the constitution of United States, and was based on a number of patchworks of cases were assembled to support the privacy rights of the people in general. The articles also concluded that interference (regardless of the fact that this intrusion is from government or private sector) to the private information violates the definition of privacy of right and it purely means to leave the individual alone with their sensitive information. Indeed, through their review article, these law professionals (named Louis Brandeis and his law partner Samuel Warren) intended to propose new and effective solutions to the exploitations brought by the print media (Nash, 2010).

This law review article proved to be a key driving force for several states of the country that persuaded them to be acquainted with privacy-based torts for employees at the workplace. This recognition for the right of privacy of the employees was then documented at common law in the form of statute. Moreover, Warren and Brandeis became the key influential people due to which the supreme court of United States expressed the right to privacy. Dramatic escalation of the scope and dimensions of privacy issues was observed as an outcome in the history of American society (Nash, 2010).

The invasion of privacy was an issue that was not broadly talked about, as the evidences undoubtedly elucidates that the theories in support of the issue of invasion of privacy was untouched until the late years of the twentieth century. In fact, it was in the latter years of the twentieth century when the judicial authorities openly expressed the existence of a specific constitutional right of employee privacy at workplace.

However, statute or case laws that were presented in the few decades turned out to be the foundations stones that raised the awareness of privacy-based torts by the jurisdictions. Besides, the arguments presented in the few of the cases became a small step for the legislations and Supreme Court of the country for the development of a more generalized right of privacy that can be applicable to several areas.

Even though significant amount of awareness have been created, yet, widening and broadening of privacy-based torts with respect to the punishment need to be performed in order to daunt irrational surveillance of employees at workplace. As time progressed, more and more cases came to the forefront pertaining to the issue of privacy, which led to the broadening of the concept of employee privacy by the Supreme Court and it is now more than just a protection of employee privacy. As an outcome of such an extension to the concept, the employees are now largely receiving protection by the court and legislation for a variety of dimensions. This indicates that the right to privacy has evidently become a constitutionally accepted doctrine (Michael de Leeuw & Bergstra, 2007).

The historical events and facts have clearly exhibited that until the recent years, employee privacy issues did not came to the forefront. This exhibit that constitutional policy of the right to privacy is relatively new that came to the development, which declare that the employees are now leveraged with the right to privacy within the workplace. The end of twentieth century has bought numerous changes to the privacy rights act, such that the Supreme Court of the United States takes care of various circumstances of constitutional rights to protect the employees from the intrusion of privacy.

It has been noticed that the changing dynamic of the workplace brought conscious to the business environment that employee privacy rights are becoming a grave concern for the employers. Moreover, observations also conclude that advances in telecommunications such as e-mail and the Internet heightened the vulnerability to the employee privacy, as employers have escalated their concentration on monitoring the employee behavior and their information (Michael de…

Sources Used in Document:


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Campbell, D. (2007). The Internet 2007: Laws and Regulatory Regimes. USA: Lulu.com.

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