Can your employer monitor my computer without your knowledge?

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Can your employer monitor my computer without your knowledge?

Weekly I am prompted to enter my password on my email when other co-workers are not asked on their email. When I asked our IT dept, they couldn’t answer this question.

Asked on September 16, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, employers have a great deal of discretion in monitoring employee usage of company computers, including servers, intranet/internet usage, downloaded files, email, etc. So if you are communicating using your company computer, your company may be able to monitor such communication. The fact is that, employers should monitor employee internet activity as a proactive measure in order to protect themselves against potential litigation for harassment and discrimination  lawsuits for offenses that occur in the workplace. While this might seem like an invasion of privacy invasion of privacy, typically when an many employee is first hired by a company, they are presented with an employee handbook which details their rights and obligations while on company time. Specifically, they mention a "no expectation of privacy" policy when using company owned computers. Hoever, without such a disclosure, it may still be an invasion of privacy if there was no monitoring policy in place or employees were not informed of it.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, employers have a great deal of discretion in monitoring employee usage of company computers, including servers, intranet/internet usage, downloaded files, email, etc. So if you are communicating using your company computer, your company may be able to monitor such communication. The fact is that, employers should monitor employee internet activity as a proactive measure in order to protect themselves against potential litigation for harassment and discrimination  lawsuits for offenses that occur in the workplace. While this might seem like an invasion of privacy invasion of privacy, typically when an many employee is first hired by a company, they are presented with an employee handbook which details their rights and obligations while on company time. Specifically, they mention a "no expectation of privacy" policy when using company owned computers. Hoever, without such a disclosure, it may still be an invasion of privacy if there was no monitoring policy in place or employees were not informed of it.


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