Can my employer monitor my emails? Phone calls? Texts? Computer activity? Website history?
Generally yes. In Fort Worth and Dallas your employer pays for your time and pays for the resources you use at the office (that they own). As a result, employment laws afford private employers wide latitude in what they can record, monitor, read, copy, etc. That said, employers often do have valid reasons. There are very few laws restricting what employers can monitor and record in the workplace in Texas.
Fort Worth and Dallas employer access to electronic communications
Employers can – and frequently do – record and access many forms of employee communications. This includes emails, phone calls on business phones, documents stored on computers, keystrokes (including user names and passwords to your private information accessed on their computers), any phone calls and texts made on employer-owned cell phones, website history, instant message conversations. They can record video of the workplace and store visual recordings of what you do on a business computer.
The power to monitor and store data includes emails and instant messages sent through private accounts on their computers. If you access a gmail account at work, any emails sent from work is subject to monitoring. If you also gchat with friends at work the same rule applies. Same applies to accessing Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites at work. Although the courts are still shaping the law in this area, it is possible that a status update on Facebook or a tweet sent on your personal smartphone while “on the clock” could be subject to employer review. At a minimum they could be evidence against you of harassment or discrimination. Even if the employer has no right to monitor your personal phone or personal accounts.
Employer policies to access electronic communications in the workplace
Employers often specifically state it can and will invoke this power within its policy documents. The HR manual almost certainly includes provisions to monitor and store anything you do within the workplace. Although employer policy manuals are not always enforced in court in favor of the employer or against it, this provision typically is enough to put employees on notice that they are subject to the watchful eye and permanent records of the employer. That can make it very difficult to prove the employer exceeded its authority to monitor what happens in the workplace.
For employees, it is best to limit using employer resources for work purposes and use them for personal reasons only when necessary. Avoid accessing any account or website and discussing any topic you would not share with your boss. If you believe your rights are being violated by your employer or your employer has in anyway invaded your privacy in an impermissible manner, seek out a Fort Worth or Dallas employment attorney to discuss your situation and legal options.
Schedule a consultation with Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas employment lawyer
If you believe your employer violated your rights then you should schedule a consultation with a Texas employment lawyer.