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The Perils of Employee Monitoring

Human hands on keyboard late night, marco
By George Khoury, Esq. on April 19, 2019 12:00 PM

Keeping tabs on employees can be a real legal and logistic nightmare. But it’s something that every employer needs to do in some fashion.

For in house and general counsel, it may seem like a no-brainer to have monitoring systems in place, such as surveillance cameras as well as methods to track online and computer activity, and even telephone calls. However, those methods need to be carefully considered, and policies need to be crafted, to ensure that company security doesn’t turn into a company scandal.

How Invasive is Too Invasive?

When it comes right down to it, overly invasive monitoring can be a lot like obscenity; you know it when you see it. Take, for example, security cameras in a bathroom, or worse, toilet stall. While employees these days have come to expect some degree of monitoring, some things clearly are just too much.

But, notably, unlike security cameras that stick out like sore thumbs, most monitoring tech these days comes in the form of software, which may or may not be visible. This means that employers need to consider what would happen if the monitoring system gets discovered. Will employees, or the public, be upset, or feel betrayed, or creeped out? Will the backlash outweigh the security benefit?

Oh (Big) Brother!

While we still aren’t quite living in a dystopian sci-fi future, with all the new employee monitoring tech out there, we might not be too far off.

For companies that are utilizing the latest in employee monitoring, being prepared for some backlash is probably a good idea. It’s an even better idea to get ahead of any expected backlash by ensuring that policies and practices respect employee personal privacy. Minimally, employees should be advised about what sort of monitoring is being done.

Keeping Tabs on the Tab Keepers

Companies would be wise to conduct regular (at least annual) audits on their monitoring system and the people tasked with running it. The audits should focus on ensuring that the systems are both working properly, and that there has been no misconduct, or failures to abide by policy, by your monitoring team.

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