graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software


employee privacy - what can employers monitor
Can you spy on your employees?  Is it spying if they consent?  Does an employer have to give notice before monitoring employee phone and computer use?  Well, it depends on who owns the accounts and equipment and what the employer’s policies are.

Here’s a breakdown.

Overview by Device/System

Employer Phones:  Employers generally can monitor, listen in and record employee phone calls on employer owned phones and phone systems.  This includes cell phones, voice mail and text messages provided to employees.

For example, in City of Ontario v. Quon (2010), the US Supreme Court found that a police officer’s personal text messages on a government owned pager were not private and the employer/police department had the right to view the messages—even though public employees (unlike private employees) have 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure since their employer is the government.

Personal Phones:  Employers generally cannot monitor or obtain texts and voicemails on an employee’s personal cell phone.  But if you’re spending a lot of time at work loudly talking about your weekend plans, there is a good argument that it wasn’t private and you can be disciplined for not working.

Employer Computers- Again, if the employer owns the computers and runs the network, the employer is generally entitled to look at whatever it wants on the system, including emails.

Personal Accounts:  It depends on the circumstances—whether the use is at work and on employer equipment.  The employer should not look at private emails on a private email account that is password protected by the employee because the employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, the account is the employee’s, and computer hacking laws provide protection against viewing personal emails without consent.

However, employees should be careful about using those accounts and passwords on employer owned equipment, because that information can be stored in backups, is visible to monitoring software and may not really be private at all.

Several cases involving private emails on employer time and equipment have gone against the employee and determined that the employer’s interception or use of an employee’s personal emails was permitted because of policies that allowed it and implied consent and because the employee was using employer owned computers or sending the emails from work.

Even cases of employees contacting their attorney have gone both ways.   In Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc.  (New Jersey 2010) an employee emailed her lawyer on a company laptop, but through her personal password protected Yahoo account.  The court held the emails were protected by the attorney client privilege, but did not really address the privacy issue.

In Holmes v. Petrovich Development Company LLC (California 2011) an employee contacted her attorney on a company computer with a company email account.  The court found the emails were not protected by either a right of privacy or the attorney client privilege.  Using the company account and system waived the privilege, and company policies precluded any expectation of privacy. The employer had issued policies that company machines could only be used for business and gave notice that employees had no rights of privacy in their use of company equipment.

In Sitton v. Print Direction, Inc. (Georgia, September 2011), an employer did not violate an employee’s privacy rights by accessing an employee’s personal laptop to print out personal email messages.  The employee had been using his personal laptop at work to help his wife run their printing business.  The boss came into the employee’s office and saw the computer screen that had a non-work email open.  Both the trial court and the court of appeal found that the employer had a legitimate interest in investigating whether or not the employee was running another business from the employer’s worksite on the employer’s time and found that printing out the emails was proper.  The employee had to pay the employer damages for breach of the duty of loyalty.

I am not familiar with Georgia law and the duty of loyalty there. But I anticipate there might be a different result in right to work states and states like California, where there is also a Constitutional Right to Privacy.

Surveillance Cameras & Video Monitoring:  An employer can monitor its property with surveillance cameras, especially in public and common areas.  However, certain areas such as locker rooms, changing areas and bathrooms are generally considered private and not subject to monitoring.  Private offices may or  may not be protected depending on the circumstances. (See tomorrow’s piece on Common Law Privacy Rights.) Some states, such as Connecticut, have specific laws restricting how and for what purpose employers can videotape employees.  And state laws on recording conversations apply to video surveillance.

Laws on Phone and Computer Surveillance: 

1.  Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986  (part of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 18 USC sec. 2510 et seq.). This federal law generally prohibits unauthorized “interception” or access to electronic communications and would include telephone, email and computer use.  However, there are several huge exceptions that basically allow an employer to monitor anything on its own systems.

  • Business Exception:  There is a business exception that allows an employer to monitor employee use of its own systems for “legitimate business needs.”  This includes improving customer service, preventing harassment and making sure that people are actually working.
  • Consent to Monitoring: If one party to the communication consents to the monitoring, then monitoring is permitted even if the business exception does not apply.  “Consent” requires the employer to give advance notice of its policy to monitor—it does not require the employees to agree.  Consent is implied from the fact that they learned about the policy and decided to keep working there.
  • Employer Owned Systems: The owner of the email, IM and phone message systems is also allowed to access the communications even if they are personal.
  • Limitations on Employer Monitoring:  No continuous monitoring.  If the call is obviously personal, the employer has to stop listening.  However, the employee can still be disciplined for making personal calls on company time.

2.  Computer Hacking Laws. Using employee passwords to sign-in to their personal or social media accounts can violate state and federal computer hacking laws and constitute identity theft.  All 50 states have laws that prohibit someone from unauthorized access to another person’s computer and online accounts, especially if the intent is to change or modify access or content.   This would include deleting an inappropriate post.

In Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group (New Jersey 2009), two employees set up a password protected MySpace account where employees could vent about working at the restaurant.  A manger got a hold of the password and logged into the site to discover disparaging and sexual remarks about management and references to illegal drugs.  The restaurant fired the employees who sued under the computer hacking laws.  The court found for the employees because the restaurant’s employee monitoring policy did not extent to private online communications on a social network outside of work.

3. State Laws on Recording Conversations—States are permitted to make more restrictive laws that protect employees and the public from monitoring, even if the federal law would allow it.  In Maryland, everyone in the conversation must consent before the conversation can be recorded.  California requires that any monitored phone conversation have a beep at certain intervals or there must be a message informing the caller that the conversation may be recorded.  Other states, including Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Jersey, also have laws relating to when a conversation may be recorded.


If the employer owns the system, hardware or both, the employer can monitor employees’ use of it, including personal files and communications.

If the employee owns the system and hardware, the employer’s ability to view and obtain personal files depends on the whether the employee is using it at work, whether the employer has a legitimate interest in viewing the communication, what the state’s laws and employer’s policies are, and what the employee’s objective expectations of privacy are.

With the blending of work and personal lives on social media and through initiatives to improve employee engagement and create a friendlier, more personal culture at work, it’s essential that employers look this issue. Just because you can legally monitor something doesn’t mean that you should or that it is good management practice.  If you want a relaxed work environment where employees are trusted and treated as grown-ups, monitoring and discipline over personal phone and computer use will not promote your cause.  But if you are dealing with sensitive information that requires higher levels of security, then you may need to monitor to protect the business. But you can’t have it both ways.

Tomorrow-Common Law and Off Duty Privacy.

graphic for The 2018 Index of Predictive Tools in HRTech: The Emergence of Intelligent Software

  • stephinie

    i have used this hackers service, he was able to hack my husbands phone and email , he also fixed my bad credit score. he is very good and reliable.

  • Vera

    i have also used he is very good and reliable.

  • Norris Mantooth

    It’s invasion of privacy. But, it’s your responsibility to secure your notebook.

  • Norris Mantooth

    Congratulations! What’s your point?

  • Norris Mantooth

    It’s none of his business.

  • Norris Mantooth

    Nope. “Without your permission” means there is not consent. They have no right to touch the phone.

  • Norris Mantooth

    They can’t touch you. If you leave to start your own business, excellent — as long as there’s no binding agreement you signed when you started with them that you’ll not compete for a period of X months.

  • Norris Mantooth

    Change your password to your email account and lock them out.

  • Norris Mantooth


  • Norris Mantooth

    Yes. This phone number is a tracking number for analytics. Widely used practice. In most states, as long as ONE party knows about the recordings, it is considered legal.

  • Norris Mantooth

    There’s some allowance for disturbances, but consider changing your environment if your dog is a distraction.

  • Norris Mantooth

    It’s their tablet. Yes. Did you even read the article?

  • Norris Mantooth

    Not unless they have a policy that says personal devices can be used for work and will be monitored.

  • Norris Mantooth

    If its on company property, and the higher-ups did this, then yes. It’s legal. They are spying on the manager with a plan to fire him for certain behaviors. Perfectly legal.

  • Norris Mantooth

    Depends on the location of the camera and the type of work you’re doing.

  • Norris Mantooth

    Up to them. If the business continues to flow through your account, it’s their business now. They maintain whatever needs necessary to operate, and if information is there, it’s theirs. You could write to them asking them to close it, but what difference does it make? Just move on. You’ll be fine.

  • Mark Jamson

    If you have any problem that may require the services of a genuine and trusted hacker I strongly recommend that you contact His services includes Hacking,tracking,spying,cloning. Retrieving of deleted text, pictures and videos. Upgrading results. Adding your name to guest invitation list .Provision of information and evidence,Can help to prevent you from being hacked or tracked.

  • my290753

    I have a colleague that suspects her employee is monitoring her emails. The laptop she uses for business purposes belongs to her as the company do not supply them, however it is a company network that she uses on this laptop but only for business, not personal. Personal email is a totally different address and service provider. There is no company ‘terms/conditions/regulations manual, and neither is there any mention of email snooping in her employment contract. Does she have a case against the employer, they know about work issues and clients before she even tells them – how can they be caught and/or enforced to stop.

  • Marcus Wealth

    I wish to kindly introduce
    now read carefully; on no account should you seek for a hackers service who you can’t have direct contact with, make sure you are able to call/chat with him/her on Whatsapp or a phone call.
    Pavel has worked for me on several occasions, he hacked a friends computer system who wanted to ruin my life, again, he helped mop some articles on some websites and recently he hacked a Facebook and an email account and provided the key loggers for me.
    I feel so pained that people always fall into the wrong hands when seeking for a hacker services and felt the need to fill you guys in on this one, when you mail him ask for a direct contact with him and he will provide his cell phone number.
    He hacks everything;
    CAIVRS database
    cell phone taps…

  • Hellokitty

    Question can a cell phone company access information in their employees account even if the employee pays the bill? and could they use as an excuse that they can do so because they provide the cell phone services at an employee discounted rate?

  • Denise Lamb-Small

    Can an employer obtain a text message from your personal phone to use against another employee? I had this happen to me was asked for me cell phone so they could review the text that was sent to me by another employee was scared if I did not hand it over I would be in trouble. Now it appears this was not legal and an invasion of my privacy is this correct? Again only gave to them because I felt blind sided and I would be in trouble if I didnt

  • Jessica Bornemeier Whitehead

    My supervisor installed Mighty Text on my computer at work so I could text information to our technicians by typing out messages using the computer keyboard instead of typing out texts on my phone. (This is my personal cell phone that my employer has me use). While I was out of the office, she got on the computer and read through all my personal text messages by opening up Mighty Text on the computer. She is now telling coworkers info she retrieved about my personal text messages. I did not leave Mighty text open on the computer. She had to open it to get to it. It’s my personal call phone, but the company’s computer. Do I have any rights, any recourse?

  • Fiona Spade

    I was in search for a legit hacker last month, I came across with a lot of recommendations on him as a valid one. I ended up hiring him to hack my ex husbands device in which eh was totally successfully. He was totally worth every penny spent.

  • florence danny

    Excellent and professional investigative services. I hired him wizard!!! for a very private and difficult matter of hacking my spouse phone, and he far exceeded my expectations. He helped me get the info(whatsapp, facebook, text messages, call logs etc) I needed faster and cheaper than I had imagined. The first time we spoke on whatsapp, we had a very long phone consultation in which he gave me all my options that he could think of to resolve my case, and he even recommended I try other options before hiring him, which shows that he is honest. I decided to hire him and I am glad I did. He is a kk investigator and a great person and if you have a dishonest partner don’t hesitate to send HIM A MESSAGE. He’s the only hacker that dropped his whatsapp number here .

    CONTACT or text or call him on his Whatsapp number ; +16282043672 . You can thank me later .

  • Annie Stonebridge

    For any professional hacking service of any such i would recommend you use their service, they are the best there, at some point i thought i was loosing custody of my children to my drug addict and abusive husband, but after i contact them they assisted me in obtaining evidences against her which i produced in court, i am so happy with their service and i can recommend them to anybody in need of such service or any other form of hacking exploits.CYBERINTELLIGENT13@GMAIL.COM

  • ANNA

    I’m probably not the only who’ll love to keep a tab on my
    wife ;knowing what she does on her phone and PC as well as her social
    media activities. Well I met the only reliable hacker/private
    investigator ( who handles such jobs with
    precision. Surprisingly, he offered me a 24-hours total refund if I find
    his services unsatisfactory but he delivered way more than I expected.
    I’ll gladly list a couple of services he offers:
    –Clearing Criminal Records – Tracking GPS location –Cloning —Bank
    Account hack —Call Recordings – Call Logs Retrieval – Incoming calls
    restriction – Remotely accessing SMS –Genuine Software cracking –Game
    hacking and cracking –Keylogging – Remote device control – Calendar
    Monitoring – Remote email spying –Internet Usage Monitoring —Message
    retrievals: whatsapp message retrieval, iTunes message retrieval,
    Facebook message retrieval, instagram, snapchat message and story
    retrieval, etc– Intercepting Instant Messages: Whatsapp Spy, Viber Spy,
    Facebook Spy, Skype Spy, Hangouts Spy — Result/Grades modification;
    University, high school, professional schools, etc– Phone and PC bugging
    —Ambient Recording: Live listen and record voice surrounding phones –
    USSD Control commands
    I’m quite sure he’s into many more. You can’t underestimate what he can
    do for you. You might really wanna consider contacting him today. He’s
    definitely going to be of great help( or )and thank me later…

  • karim

    before hiring any hacker, endeavor to visit this blog… it will safe you the stress of hiring an unreliable hacker

  • Julio Sagun-grijalva

    I have a question, if an employee clocks out and then proceeds to shop after his shift is over in the same place he works at and when he is about to leave security asks every employee who shopped there after their shift is over their names so they can right it down in a log before you leave the area, is that invasive since i have not done anything wrong and they don’t do the same for other customers because technically i am a customer once i clock out or am i just being paranoid since in the last couple week employees have been for fired for reason unexplained or no reason at all since i live in Las Vegas. Single dad concerned.

  • renea craig

    I can’t believe what just happened,he did it again,A professional hacker just provided me full access to my kids phone calls, text messages and their social media accounts which means i can now monitor their daily activities and also be able to know when they are being misled by anyone. I am happy about this because my kids mean the world to me.You can contact the brain behind the hack at for any problems you have that relates to hacking.

  • FreddieDog

    I have a question. A person is using a company computer with their personal skype account signed in on it. The person is using the skype account for work and personal information. There has been some lude and graphic imaged shared between persons and companion, and the files are saved on the company computer local machine. I do not think this person realizes IT can see the files stored on the local company machine. Can that person get into trouble with the graphic images stored locally on the machine; it is their personal skype account used for personal and work matters, but it is on a company machine.

  • Benita Benz

    it is so unfortunate that when you try to hire a hacker, you basically see email spammers Normally a fake hacker asks for payment before services that and he still unable to render at the end of the day right now i want to introduce you to an university graduate in computer science as well as computer geek for any form of hacking I needed to post this because i appreciate the good things done in my matrimonial home today. Right now we live happier then before, i contact this hacker (Notablespy) who let me see all her whatsapp, messagener and all living proves seeing all what see have been hiding. i see she was only been friendly with are clients. so i know whats right and every since we both know our wrongs and we live happily together. i will prefer to let their services speak for itself. contact and bee safe as well

  • Julia York

    Very informative and knowledgeable article. Thanks. I’ve learned lots of new info.

  • renea craig

    i am renea i met a friend and he helped hack into my spouse Facebook account when i find out he was hiding something from me,he’s well known for breaching the net .I never give him a job that he couldn’t pull off.He hacks almost everything from Facebook,Whats app,emails,Instagram,Kik accounts,does cellphone hacks ,You can reach him on You can reach out to him for any problems related to hacking.

  • sharon
  • sharon

    thank you very much for your help i really appreciate.

  • game

    you should all try him out , he is the best out there, he was able to hack my cheating wifes phone.

  • Dolph anderson


  • Kelvin Murry

    Hello, i need to share this on here because i think it will be of great benefit for people that may be experiencing similar situations, i was getting really close to securing a promotion at my work place, i work in the same company as Amy my wife, i actually just got transferred to the branch where she works and within a few weeks i was already in contention for a promotion, the company was reducing their staffs and i only recently just understood what really happened but she was working really hard to see that i got transferred back or at least did not get the promotion which would affect her boyfriend at the office. After i noticed my wife started making moves , i was prompted by a friend to hack her device and find out what was up, i thought the worst, maybe she was being intimidated or something but it turned out to be an immoral escapade, i hired cyberwebkey484 at gmail dot com for a private hack on her phone and today i’m happy i took the bold step, if i hadn’t seen her email to the guy and alot of other crazy things i totally wouldn’t have thought she could do that, however, i feel much better knowing.

Page 1 of 11
Read previous post:
Workforce analytics: What is there to get?

Many organizations are making incremental advances with workforce analytics to solve specific challenges, but they may not have the resources...