U.S. Supreme Court to hear texting case….stay tuned!

April 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Posted in 1 | 1 Comment
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The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case involving issues surrounding an employee’s personal use of an employer-provided cell phone.  The employer in the matter had no written policy regarding personal texting by employees using employer-provided equipment but did have such a policy regarding personal internet and email use.  The employee here always paid the employer for overages regarding his personal texting.  There seemed to be an informal understanding that the employer would not monitor personal texting by employees. The employee in the matter used the employer-provided phone to text sexually explicit messages to his wife – and to his girlfriend (the girlfriend happened to be a co-worker).

The employer tired of being a bill collector and resented having to chase employees for overage costs.  The employer then requested transcripts of all texts from the cell provider. After reading the very personal messages from this particular employee, the employer confronted the employee about the sexual nature of the texts sent during work hours.  The employee – and his wife – responded by suing both the employer and the cell provider for violating the Fourth Amendment – unreasonable search and seizure.  Of note, the employer in this case was a public employer.

It is likely the Supreme Court will limit its ruling to public employers but guidance might come from the high court as to privacy rights in personal messages sent via employer-provided equipment.  Both employers and employees can learn from this case that “personal” written messages using electronic methods never go away.  Clear monitoring policies are needed, as is training, so that boundaries and clarity are achieved as to personal use of electronic devices.

A reader’s review of the above information does not establish an attorney client relationship between the reader and the Sensenig Law Firm, P.A. The above information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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Tip #2: Cell phones and the workplace – a boon or a curse?

March 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Posted in 1, Employee, Employer, FLSA, wage & hour | Leave a comment
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Texting, it’s not just for teenagers anymore.  People who text to communicate have increased text messages sent to more than 4 billion texts each day!  If you or your employees are sending texts for business purposes, you need to ensure the  information sent is properly secured, especially if the topic is confidential.  Texts in a business capacity are the same as formal business letters in that you must check your spelling and avoid cutesy abbreviations or emoticons to avoid the appearance of unprofessionalism.  Employers must develop a policy to manage, capture and store incoming and outgoing texts.  Texts can incur liability to an employer if an employee is texting for business purposes while driving and has an accident.  Another trap for the unwary is employers who text exempt employees outside of their normal working hours.  If the employee responds to the text, and the texting occurs on a regular basis, such conduct could result in overtime liability for the employer.  It’s 2010 – do you have a cell/PDA/texting policy?

A reader’s review of the above information does not establish an attorney client relationship between the reader and the Sensenig Law Firm, P.A.  The above information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.

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