We have mentioned before on our San Diego employment law blog that advancements in technology and social media have been making it easier for employers to learn more about their employees or prospective employees.
Employees in San Diego certainly have a right to protect their interests when they believe that their employers and co-workers are engaging in illegal, unethical or disrespectful business and workplace practices. However, employees must be sure they handle their workplace complaints appropriately in order to avoid legal trouble or additional obstacles for mishandling their complaints.
Earlier this year on our San Diego employment law blog, we had mentioned that California lawmakers were pushing for better privacy protections for employees and job applicants regarding social media accounts and personal email accounts.
A recent article in the Los Angeles Times by Carol J. Williams, notes that Bob Dylan is the most-cited artist in legal filings and court opinions. The singer-songwriter's lyrics are often used in employment law rulings. According to the LA Times, several California appellate court rulings have used the Dylan line, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," to point out that expert witnesses aren't necessary for certain common-sense knowledge.
Employees should not assume privacy when they send written communications through electronic devices owned by their employer. A recent decision by the Third District Court of Appeal in California ruled that employees' e-mails sent to an attorney may not even be privileged.
A transgender woman has filed a claim for damages with a state agency against the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in San Francisco after she says a DMV employee sent her a letter at home warning her she would "go to hell." The woman's complaint includes the claim that the employee did a similar thing in 2009 and should have been fired after that incident. The woman will seek damages for emotional distress and will ask the court to require the DMV to follow California's privacy laws.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year against a California policeman who sued his employer after he was disciplined for using an employer-issued pager to send personal messages. The employee had sent sexually explicit messages to a mistress that were intercepted by the employer. The Supreme Court ruled that employees should have no expectation of privacy while using employer-issued equipment while on the clock.
Some employees abuse drugs and create unsafe work environments for other employees or compromise public safety. Employers interested in creating a drug-free workplace may test for certain illegal drugs, such as meth, but some employers are also branching out to test for certain prescription drugs. As the use of prescription drugs and abuse of prescription drugs has increased, employers are concerned about their liability in the event of a workplace accident.
An article recently appearing in The New York Times takes an in-depth look at the issue of drug testing in the workplace. The presence of illegal drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, in an employee's system could lead to their immediate termination. But, increasingly, employees are finding that they can lose their jobs for taking legal medications prescribed to them by their doctors.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a California employee's rights were not violated when his boss read transcripts of sexually explicit text messages he sent to his mistress via his work pager. The justices ruled 9-0 in favor of the employer.