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Comcast takes check for woman’s ‘Right arm’

When Krista Cooney, a Comcast customer in western Pennsylvania, sent the company a check made out for “My Right Arm and Zero Dollars” to protest her cable bill, she thought she’d had the last laugh. But Cooney contends an unidentified employee at Comcast posted an electronic copy of the check on the Internet …

Can emergency contact info be mandatory?

Q. We’re cleaning up our personnel files and updating emergency contact information. Some employees don’t want to provide their contact information. Is it legal for us to require them to give it to us? …

Negligent hiring: Take proper steps to avoid the costly pitfall

In recent years, the Georgia courts have significantly expanded employers’ obligations—and therefore potential liability—in the area of negligent hiring and supervision. At the same time, employees and applicants now enjoy significantly expanded privacy rights. So it’s more important than ever for employers to pay close attention to their application, hiring and background-check policies and practices …

Can we search an employee’s car if we think she’s using drugs at work?

Q. We suspect an employee has been getting high at work. Over the past two weeks, co-workers have reported that the employee’s pupils were dilated and her speech was slurred. She stares out the window for extended periods of time, she fell while walking down the hall, her appearance is disheveled, and she takes multiple “rest breaks” to go to her car throughout the day. We want to search the employee’s car, but she refuses to let us. Can we search her car anyway? …

Sting nets state worker who allegedly sold private data

Yvette Beler, a data-input worker for Secretary of State Jesse White, has been charged with selling personal data about auto owners to an informant of the federal government …

State worker claims he was fired for airing dirty political laundry

Matthew Magalis sued the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), claiming he was fired for reporting corruption. Magalis admitted that in October 2006, he gave the Chicago Tribune a report about a co-worker doing political work on state time for Gov. Rod Blagojevich …

Can we tap company phones to investigate possible theft?

Q. Our company distributes steel from one of our warehouses. A substantial amount of product has gone missing. We suspect that our warehouse manager is conspiring with one of our former employees to take it, possibly creating a false paper trail to cover the theft. Our camera surveillance is not picking up any irregular activity on the loading dock. We believe the manager may be talking to the ex-employee from his office phone. Can we legally monitor the manager’s phone without violating any privacy rights that he might have? …

Identity theft and liability: How to reduce the risks facing your business

How safe is the confidential customer information your company keeps? The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse says that, since February 2005, the personal information of 88 million people has been compromised by data security breaches at companies or government agencies …

Army engineer arrested for spying

An 85-year-old former U.S. Army engineer has been arrested on charges of giving classified U.S. documents about nuclear weapons to the Israeli Consulate. Ben-Ami Kadish, who worked at the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Dover from 1963 to 1990, is charged with assisting the same Israeli handler who recruited U. S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard …

Can we discipline an employee for secretly recording workplace conversations?

Q. Some employees discovered that a co-worker has been secretly recording conversations with them and some supervisors. One of them brought it to our attention after he grew suspicious that the employee was digging for information about some employment decisions we had made. Several employees have complained about the invasion of their privacy. The company president’s first reaction was to have the employee arrested, but I’m not sure he broke any laws. Our policies prohibit general harassment, but do not specifically address clandestine recordings. Can we discipline this employee? Should we contact police? …