The COVID-19 pandemic completely changed our approach to working environments. Among this rapid flood of change to working practices is working from home. Working from home has many benefits for workers but also introduces new privacy concerns that may require the help of an employment lawyer.
This post will examine some of the privacy risks that come with remote working. We’ll also look at the legal implications and how legal representation can help with a claim.
The Work From Home Trend is Here to Stay
While many workers are moving back into the office, research shows that this WFH trend is here to stay. Research estimates that up to 25% of all high-paying jobs in North America will be work from home within 12months. These will continue to increase through 2023.
Many workers report they would prefer to work remotely. A report from Owl Labs found that 90% of their full-time workers surveyed said they felt more productive working remotely. 74% of workers said working from home was better for their mental health.
Work From Home Privacy Risks
Working at home means workers are gathering sensitive client information at home. This data can include financial, medical, or business information from clients. Companies need to have IT security in place to protect this client data even if workers are at home.
With this extra security comes potential privacy issues for workers. Any employee using their work computer, phone, or device should expect their workplace to track it. This surveillance can also apply if they use a workplace device to check their personal email or social media.
Understanding your privacy rights and how your employer can use this information is essential. An experienced employment law attorney can tell you about the laws protecting employees’ privacy when working from home.
Accessing Personal Financial Data
So what happens when the employee’s personal information is visible to an employer as part of the security system scan?
Employers may come across employees’ personal financial information in their security scans. This information could violate credit protection laws. These laws prevent an employer from using personal financial information against an employee.
Accessing Personal Health Data (HIPAA, ADA, Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act)
State laws protect confidential information such as health records in personnel files.
- ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to keep medical information separate from other records. They also must limit access to medical records to a restricted group of people. These include first-aid workers, government officials, and insurance companies.
- HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires employers who use their group health insurance plans to protect the privacy of their employee’s medical records.
Tracking/Monitoring for Wages and Accountability
Many employers use tracking or monitoring systems. They track when their employees are working and can watch workers’ activities remotely. Some monitoring systems use spyware or keylogging. Keylogging lets an employer monitor computer activity, internet activity, and keystrokes.
These systems can provide a great deal of information on worker productivity and efficiency to employers. They also come with significant privacy risks for employees who may be unaware they are being tracked. Keylogging can also give employers access to personal passwords and private information.
Social Media Laws
Many workers use social media while working or as part of their job. If you are using your employer’s devices or network, you should know that everything you post on social media is not private. Your employer may access your account and even personal or direct messages.
Some states have laws that prohibit employers from asking their employees for their social media passwords. This also includes asking employees to change their social media privacy settings. But, if employers use keylogging, they may access this information without their employees’ knowledge.
What Is The Legal Definition of An Invasion of Privacy?
So how do you know if you are a victim of an invasion of privacy at work and need legal representation? An invasion of privacy at work occurs when a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy that their employer violated. An example is a person wanting their personal information to stay private and the company sharing it publicly.
People have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes. When employees work from home, and the lines between workplace and home life become blurred, this can get very complicated. Most workplaces have employee guidelines that state how they track devices and emails. If you are using a workplace account or employer-provided computer, there is a chance your employer may monitor your emails.
In the case of privacy violations and employment law, courts will look at the harm caused and the nature of the breach. An employment law attorney must show that the privacy violation caused long-term damage or distress to prove a case in court.
They can also show that your employer had access to information that led to harassment or discrimination or affected your employment.
If you are a victim of workplace privacy violations and have questions about how the law pertains to your case, get in touch with LegalASAP today.
An employment lawyer can listen and help sort through your case and tell you the best course of action. Our network can connect you with experienced, trustworthy legal representation. We’ll help you find an employment law attorney in your area who is available to help with your case. Get a free evaluation today.