Employee Privacy Rights in California

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Posted by Legal Team On June 30, 2023

Knowledge of workplace privacy rights is essential to recognize what personal information an employer has the authority to access. California’s privacy laws provide guidelines for protecting your personal information. When you believe an employer has violated your right to privacy, contact the Northern California employee privacy rights attorney at The Armstrong Law Firm to discuss an action plan.

Background Checks and Privacy Rights

When being considered for any position, an employer will review private information regarding your history. Screening specific personal data in this process is legal and allows the collection of information from sources such as DMV records, credit reports, and past personnel files. This information may include the following:

  • Education history: School you attended and the dates
  • Social security number
  • Credit reports and any negative scores or information
  • Immigration record
  • Arrest records

The collection of any medical information during a background check is unlawful. Health data can be used in discriminatory hiring practices. But an employer may inquire about your ability to perform specific job duties. 

Privacy Rights and Criminal Conviction

California legislation restricts an employer from asking about your criminal history until after a conditional employment offer is made. When an employer discovers information about a past criminal conviction, they must perform an individualized assessment and, by law, cannot automatically exclude you from the position. 

Monitoring Emails and Social Media

Most workplace communications can be monitored under California law. This may include:

  • Emails
  • Voicemails
  • Computer use
  • Business calls
  • Text messages on company-owned phones

Additionally, California law allows the monitoring of social media accounts, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and may base their hiring decisions on your use of these accounts. But requesting your username and password is always prohibited. 

Workplace Surveillance

With some exclusions, video camera recording is allowed in the workplace for security monitoring as long as employees are notified of the use and recording. Video monitoring should never be used as a spying tool to deter the formation of groups or organizations that benefit employee needs. The places where cameras are excluded include:

  • Changing rooms
  • Locker rooms
  • Restrooms

Remembering Your Privacy at Work

It is easy to become comfortable in an environment you spend so much time in, forgetting that an employer may be monitoring the workplace. There are critical actions that can help you protect your privacy at work.

Consider Who Owns the Device

Always remember that a device owned by an employer may be monitored. If you are required to use a phone provided by your employer, use that device only for work correspondence. The hassle of switching between devices will be worth it when it comes to your privacy and personal conversations.

Social Media Publicizes Your Private Life

Social media posts have been the catalyst for many employers’ decisions in the retention or expulsion of an employee. No one can access your account using your personal information, but your posts, shares, and likes are there for anyone to see. Posts made during work hours while working from home may be scrutinized by your employer, particularly if your personal feelings or thoughts contradict the values promoted by your employer. 

Let a San Francisco Employee Privacy Rights Attorney Protect You

Laws in California are particular about an employee’s right to privacy in the workplace. Often, our business and private worlds become intertwined, making it challenging to separate the two. But as an employee, you have rights that protect you when an employer overextends their reach, using your personal information against you.

We believe that every employee has a right to privacy. The Armstrong Law Firm continually strives to ensure that each client and their privacy is protected when an employer crosses the boundaries of employee privacy. Speak with us to discuss a violation of your employee privacy rights today.