In most instances, employer monitoring of work-related equipment (including vehicles) and resources accessed on company time is perfectly legal. Only two states, Connecticut and Delaware require that employees be notified they are being monitored.
What employers are looking for:
- Violation of any company policy
- Inappropriate or offensive language
- Excessive personal use
- Breach of confidentiality rules
- Internet access of inappropriate or offensive content
- Game sites or social networking sites
Monitoring is on the increase, with fully 67% of employers surveyed by the American Management Institute, including 27% with less than 100 employees, use some form of work site monitoring.
Where things get tricky is with monitoring of employees’ personal, off-site usage of personally-owned resources. Most common of these is social media usage. The National Labor Relations Board restricts an employer’s right to terminate an employee for posting disparaging comments on social media, even when they are related to the employee’s pay and the work environment. In general, though, a company may be able to prohibit employees from disclosing trade secrets and other legitimately confidential information online. It is also probably okay to prohibit unauthorized statements appearing to be on behalf of the company and sexually or racially harassing comments.
This is an area of the law where consulting with an experienced labor or employment attorney is probably a good idea before implementing policies.