CAN MY EMPLOYER MONITOR MY INTERNET AND EMAIL USAGE?
Generally, yes. Your employer can monitor internet usage and a majority of employers do. In a 2005 survey by the American Management Association (AMA), the AMA found that 76% of employers monitor workers’ Website connections, 65% of employers use software to block connections to inappropriate Websites, 50% of employers store and review employees’ computer files, and 55% retain and review emails sent over company email. Most employers (more than 80%) notify employees that their Web usage is being tracked and/or their email is being monitored.
Under Connecticut law, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-48d, an employer is required to notify employees in writing that it will be monitoring email or internet usage, by a posted notice. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Where an employer reasonably believes that employees are engaged in conduct that (1) violates the law, (2) violates the legal rights of the employer or other employees, or (3) creates a hostile workplace environment, the employer may conduct monitoring with prior notice. Some examples of this would be if the employer believes an employee is gambling or looking at pornography, disclosing proprietary company information or engaging in activities that could lead to employer liability in harassment or discrimination cases (websites, screensavers, emails or images that are degrading to women, for example).
Employees should keep in mind that while using company resources (computers, emails, telephone systems) they have a lower expectation of privacy than they would if they were using their own personal resources. Monitoring of company resources is something that employers seem to take seriously – the AMA survey indicated that 26% of employers have fired employees for misusing the Internet, and another 25% have terminated employees for inappropriate email usage.