Privacy rights for workers are governed by certain laws, whether local, state or federal, by industry regulations or rules, and/or by company specific policies. Additionally, in many situations, people in the workplace may also have what is called a “reasonable expectation to privacy” under a concept called common law. While technology has helped us do our jobs, including gathering employee documentation necessary to do their job (such as ID for proof of immigration status, or bank information for payroll purposes), technology is often a main culprit in publicizing an employee’s personal information.

Furthermore, untrained supervisors and managers are a huge risk to companies. What they may think is “ok” may bring a lawyer knocking on your door. Ask yourself some of these questions while determining your level of risk of violating privacy rights of your employees:

    Are your employee’s files, whether paper or electronic, easily accessible to other employees?
    Do you store images of new hire ID’s on your cell phone, a camera or even in email?
    Are background checks or drug screening results openly discuss with your team?
    Do you require co-workers of pregnant employees to handle the manual labor functions of the pregnant employee?
    Do you video tape areas in the workplace?

If you are answering yes to some or all of these, you should consider getting further education on privacy issues in the workplace.