Protection of Employee Privacy Interests at the Workplace
The California Constitution provides the inalienable right of privacy, and this applies to the workplace as well as personal lives. Employers should also fully understand the privacy protections of employees and adhere to them to prevent legal liability or penalties. The following is a brief overview of how employers should protect employee privacy interests at work. For specific information or assistance, contact our Encino employment defense attorneys directly.
Employers are allowed to conduct background checks of potential employees to review certain private information. Sources of this information often include:
- Arrest and criminal records (see more on this below)
- Driving and vehicle registration records
- Consumer credit reports
- Personnel files from past jobs
Medical records can only be checked regarding concerns that a potential employee can perform specific job duties.
Employers must provide clear notice of the scope of the background check and who will be performing it. They must also offer the employee the right to receive a copy of the report they review.
The law is complicated when it comes to criminal convictions and checks, as California has a ban-the-box law. This law prohibits employers from basing job offers on an applicant’s criminal history, and employers with five or more employees cannot even ask about criminal convictions before issuing a conditional employment offer to the potential employee. If the employer meets these requirements and conducts a background check, they cannot immediately rescind the offer based on a conviction. Instead, employers must conduct an assessment of different factors to make the hiring decision.
Surveillance at Work
Employers are allowed to have video cameras in the workplace, as long as they are meant for security purposes, and the employees know they are being recorded. Employers cannot use footage to monitor what employees are doing, however, and there cannot be cameras in restrooms or places where employees change clothing or use for lactation.
In order to conduct audio recording, both the employee and employer must know about and consent to the recording. Employees must also get consent from third parties on recorded calls. It is a criminal offense for employers to eavesdrop on private communications by employees.
Employers can monitor employee communications at work, which includes business email and computer use. Employers do have the right to monitor the social media accounts of employees, and they can even base employment decisions on social media information. However, the law prohibits employers from:
- Requesting usernames or passwords to access private account information
- Requesting that the employee access and show the employer social media accounts
Discuss Questions or Concerns with an Encino Employment Defense Lawyer
At Kaufman McAndrew LLP, we advise employers how to design and implement policies that ensure they are complying with California employment laws and upholding the privacy rights of employees. If you need assistance with privacy policies or if an employee filed a complaint for privacy violations, our Encino employment defense attorneys can help. Contact us online or call 818-788-5767 to discuss your concerns.