Under a new law set to take effect next May, employers in New York State would be required to inform employees in advance if they intend to engage in electronic monitoring of their workforce. This law, S2628, will have a substantial effect on employers that use various technologies to monitor their employees’ electronic communications, who currently do not need to tell their employees if they do so. Employers who violate this law may find themselves subject to investigation and fines by the New York Attorney General’s (AG’s) office.
What is Electronic Monitoring?
In the context of the new law, “electronic monitoring” refers to any practice that allows employers to monitor or intercept the electronic communications of employees. This includes communications such as email, text messages, social media, or any other internet activity that occurs in the workplace during work hours. It also includes older technologies such as radio, television, telephones, or wire communications.
What Does the Law Require?
If an employer intends to engage in electronic monitoring, they must provide prior written notice in writing to the affected employees. There must be an electronic record of this notice, and the employee must acknowledge the notice, either electronically or in writing. This is true whether they are working from home or in their employer’s place of business. An employer that fails to fulfill these requirements and begins monitoring their employees may face investigation by the AG, and will face fines for each violation discovered.
Why Do Employers Engage in Electronic Monitoring?
Employers that electronically monitor their employers typically do so for several reasons. On the more reasonable side of things, employers will monitor employees to make sure they are not communicating confidential information outside of the company, such as privileged client information or trade secrets. However, they also use electronic monitoring to measure employee productivity, and to evaluate employees for promotions or raises. They may also keep track of how employees spend their time, to determine if an employee has been “slacking off” or otherwise been using work computers for things unrelated to their job.
How Does This Affect Employees?
For employees, the notice required by this law may be the first sign any of them receive that they are being monitored by their employers. This law helps them to understand the ways in which their information is being collected or intercepted by employers, and how little privacy they have when trying to accomplish their work. It also gives them the ability to potentially seek redress when their employers try to monitor them without their consent.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.