USA Today reports that more businesses are using technology to track the actions of their employees.
Firms have become sharp-eyed, keenly eared watchdogs as they try to squeeze every penny’s worth of their employees’ salaries and to ensure they have the most professional and lawsuit-proof workplaces.
Managers use technological advances to capture workers’ computer keystrokes, monitor the websites they frequent, even track their whereabouts through GPS-enabled cellphones. Some companies have gone as far as using webcams and minuscule video cameras to secretly record employees’ movements. […]
Employers no longer have to hire a pricey private investigator to install a complicated video system or computer-use tracking devices. Now, they can easily buy machine-monitoring software and tiny worker-tracking cameras at a local electronics store or through Internet retailers.
Monitoring has expanded beyond expected, highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and financial services. Employees at radio stations, ad agencies, media outlets, sports leagues, even thinly staffed mom-and-pop workplaces are tracked. […]
In most cases, the employer has the upper hand.
“Federal law gives employers the legal right to monitor all computer activity,” says Flynn. “The computer system is the property of the employer, and the employee has absolutely no reasonable expectations of privacy when using that system.”
That means employers can track which websites workers visit, the instant messages they send to co-workers, even e-mails sent through personal accounts â€” such as Gmail â€” while employees are logged onto the company network or using company-owned equipment such as a laptop.