The future of employee privacy rights in the workplace may hinge on a case that the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up involving a cop and sexting. Jeff Quon, a California SWAT sergeant, was given a pager from his employer, the Ontario Police Department. He was later found to have used the device not only for work but also for pleasure, often sending sexually explicit text messages to his wife and his mistress. Quon’s employer found out about his personal use of the pager after an investigation looking into excessive texting at the department. Quon cried foul, saying he thought the messages were confidential. As a result, Quon; his wife Jerilyn, who is also a police officer; his mistress, April Florio, who is a department dispatcher; and another sergeant, Steve Trujillo; sued the department, the city of Ontario, and the paging service company, Arch Wireless Operating Company, for violating their privacy rights.
All people have been heard about regular ethical issues such as lying about work subjects, personal relationships between employees and employers, accuracy in teaching process or accuracy in reports to payers and funding sources during work life and these ethical issues are not new and unique. The one issue that was mentioned above is about work time and work equipment are often used for personal matters such as e-mailing a spouse about a child’s soccer game or texting a friend about what time to meet at the local bar after work. according to a survey report in 2009 by the ePolicy Institute and the American Management Association found that 79 percent of employees had used e-mail to send or receive personal messages. it means a huge number of people use work equipment as their personal uses. this percentage make us to think about why people use business email address or pagers for sending personal messages and what is solution?
No matter what your policy is or how much you try to control it, employees will probably use your equipment from time to time for personal purposes. The best way to handle the inevitable is to allow a reasonable amount of slack, but to be consistent and vigilant in creating and enforcing rules to make sure that the personal use doesn’t get excessive.
For example, for many businesses, employees use computers for the most important aspects of their work. So, what happens when employees begin doing personal business on these machines? Is “Monitoring” employees and employers during work hours an appropriate solution? or spying their emails or computers? we all know people don’t use work time and work equipment for personal reasons but what exactly can be stop individual doing that?
The type of policy you create to regulate the personal use of business equipment will depend on the type of business you operate and the equipment used in your business. for example, your policy regarding the personal use of business computers could state that:
- Email and other computer files provided by the company are to be used for business purposes only.
- Use of computer facilities for personal reasons is strictly prohibited (or, personal use may be permitted subject to approval).
- Employees may not use computer files or software brought from home or other sources on the business computer (to avoid viruses).
- The company reserves the right to enter, search, and monitor the computer files or email of any employee, without advance notice, for business purposes such as investigating theft, disclosure of confidential business or proprietary information, or personal abuse of the system, or monitoring work flow or productivity.
There are ethical codes and standards for each issue at workplace but the thing is how leaders would be able to set policy for organization to stop employees to use work equipment or time for personal uses and with what rules leaders can manage this issue and keep the environment safe and friendly at the same time.
American Psychological Association. (January, 2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Including 2010 and 2016 amendments. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/ethics/code/