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Taking a closer look at the privacy laws and policies of companies debate, I believe that it makes perfect sense for companies to monitor employees when they are on the job. Making sure employees are working is the first thing that comes to many people’s minds when this subject comes up, but the monitoring of employees also helps to make sure that their equipment is not being used unethically. Harassment and discrimination are just two of many ways in which communication technologies can be misused at work and a company may be held responsible for these actions.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is the primary piece of legislation that suggests employees have a right to privacy on the job, but there are three exceptions under the ECPA that effectively eliminate any substantial expectations of privacy at work. 1) If the company owns the internet, phone, or email services it falls under the “provider exception. ” 2) According to the “ordinary course of business” exception the company is allowed to monitor employee communication to insure legitimate business objectives, such as quality control, preventing sexual harassment, or unauthorized use of equipment. )
Finally there is the “consent” exception; if at least one party of a communication consents to its interception then there is no violation of the ECPA (E-Monitoring, 2006). Both points for and against were discussed in the forum this week and I believe both sides had very valid points, but the reasons for monitoring were much more based in facts. Based on the responses I read I believe that while a company may have the right to monitor their employees, they should strive not to go overboard.
This is because they may inadvertently create an us versus them mentality in the work place or lose important people who do not feel comfortable with how much or how they are monitored. That type of environment would greatly damage productivity, which is the opposite of what a monitoring policy is supposed to do. Mutual respect and understanding is needed first before a sensible and just monitoring plan can be created.