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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 …

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? …

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 …

What should we include in a policy banning cell phone cameras?

Q. I’m looking to create a policy regarding cell phones with photographic capabilities. Any suggestions? …

Employer can access hard drive on company-Owned laptop

Employers that provide laptops to employees and that suspect an employee might be aiding a competitor can inspect the company-owned laptop without violating the employee’s right to privacy. Employers should, however, exercise discretion while searching the computer …

Schaumburg woman indicted in alleged international corporate espionage scheme

Hanjuan Jin, a former software engineer for a suburban Chicago telecommunications firm identified as “Company A” for security reasons, has been indicted on charges of stealing business trade secrets and attempting to take them to China …

Of MySpace & Money: Don’t try to muzzle millennials’ salary talk


You’d never discuss how much money you make, right? Dude, that attitude is so 20th century! The 20-somethings you work with eagerly dish about salaries, bonuses and other work topics you might consider taboo. Managers tempted to forbid such talk? Don’t let them! Here’s why.

Revise confidentiality policy to omit any hint it covers wages

It’s considered impolite in many circles to discuss money, but don’t try to stop employees from talking about their pay. Setting a policy that prohibits employees from sharing information about hourly rates, salaries, bonuses or the terms of their employment could violate the National Labor Relations Act—even if your employees do not belong to a union …