How can you oversee your employees’ use of company e-mails without violating their privacy?
According to a recent nationwide survey, more than 40% of businesses monitor their workers’ e-mails. If you’re one of these companies, a disgruntled employee might well sue you for invasion of privacy (the number of privacy lawsuits has skyrocketed by 3,000% during the past decade).
The best way to protect yourself against this risk is to create a written policy warning employees that you might be monitoring their use of e-mail. Bear in mind that because your business owns the e-mail system – software, network access, and computers – you have the legal right to oversee workers for misusing it to violate company policy or break the law.
The first step in implementing this policy is to have all employees sign a disclaimer that acknowledges the company’s right to monitor their e-mail. You can do this when an employee is hired, at contract renewal, or at a company meeting – and don’t forget to circulate any updates to the policy throughout the company. Apply e-mail monitoring as uniformly as possible, because singling out an individual without a clear reason to do so could leave you vulnerable to a discrimination lawsuit. Finally, be sure to have your attorney review the policy.
A comprehensive e-mail policy can: 1) provide an effective defense against invasion of privacy litigation; and 2) educate your employees on the proper use of e-mail – which should go far to reduce potential problems from misusing the system.
If you’d like to learn more about how to balance protecting the integrity of your company’s e-mail system with your employees’ right to privacy, please get in touch with us. As always, we’re here to help.