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Privacy

Supreme Court to decide: Are employees’ personal text messages private?

12/15/2009

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear a case that could settle the contentious issue of whether employers have a right to read personal text messages employees send using employer-provided equipment and bandwidth. It’s yet another bump in the evolving landscape of employee use of technology at work (the topic, by the way, of this week’s HR Specialist webinar, "Employees Online: Social Media at Work").

Can we administer a polygraph test to find out if one of our employees has been stealing?

12/03/2009

Q. I am a manager for a local bank. I strongly suspect that one of my tellers is stealing because his drawer is short every week. I have interviewed several employees, but no one knows anything, and the teller refuses to answer any questions regarding the missing money. Can I require him to take a polygraph test?

Watching the detectives: A cautionary tale on employee privacy

11/16/2009

When it comes to work-related matters, many private-sector employers think that employees’ rights to privacy are limited, if they exist at all. A recent $1.8 million jury verdict should help dispel that myth.

H1N1 virus alert: Complying with the ADA during an emergency

11/13/2009

The H1N1 influenza virus has added a note of urgency to the need to understand the ADA’s privacy requirements. Although some of the rules are relaxed in emergencies, employers that use confidential medical information to discriminate against workers will have to answer in court for their actions.

Family ties: Discrimination trend … and trap!

11/10/2009

Discrimination against employees because of their family caregiving duties has become a hotbed for litigation against employers, and every indication is that this trend will continue. So it’s critical for employers to recognize the potential for liability and take necessary steps to avoid being the next defendant. Here’s how.

Can we require employees to get flu vaccine?

11/09/2009

Q. Can I require my employees to be vaccinated against the flu? I am concerned about the impact H1N1 will have on my business if it spreads among my employees, and a large group needs to take time off.

Do we need a ‘HIPAA form’ for personal information unrelated to employees’ health?

10/30/2009

Q. I’d like to know if our company needs a HIPAA form for employees to sign when we release personal information to others. Is HIPAA only for the medical field?

Can you muzzle employees who compare their paychecks?

10/27/2009

It’s no secret that employees gossip about pay. And it’s no secret that those conversations often cause resentment and tension in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be great if you could forbid employees from discussing compensation? Don’t even think about it until you’ve read this comprehensive guide to the requirements of the National Labor Relations Act.

Confidentiality depends on good e-mail policy

10/20/2009

Employers that don’t enforce reasonable e-mail and computer-access policies—consider yourselves warned. Without such policies and practices, you won’t be able to use the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to punish employees who send information through your system to other persons or computers.

Can we require employees to get flu shots?

10/06/2009

Approximately 3 million doses of the vaccines designed to prevent the H1N1 flu virus—swine flu—shipped last week. Local health authorities are preparing to offer vaccines as early as this week. Can you—should you?—demand that your employees get flu shots?