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Privacy and the Workplace

Privacy and the Workplace

With the onset of sophisticated technologies to monitor employees, workplace privacy is increasingly a legal issue.  With smartphone technology, employees can record activities and conversations in the workplace, without the knowledge or consent of their co-workers. 

In Ontario, provincial legislation is presently underdeveloped in this area.  Many provinces have enacted privacy legislation governing rules around workplace privacy.  In Ontario, there is no equivalent privacy legislation governing private sector enterprises.  Companies nevertheless have an implied obligation at common law to safeguard your personal information, to respect your personal privacy in the workplace and to act transparently. 

The employer has an interest in safeguarding its IT infrastructure, protecting against inappropriate Internet and email usage, and monitoring employee productivity.  By the same token, employees do not check their privacy rights at the door.  There are limits on what the employer (and your colleagues) can access, monitor and surveil.   Employees may have limited rights to privacy in relation to their email communications, phone communications, instant messaging and other activities, even if the employer owns the IT infrastructure or equipment.  There are also certain safeguards against unreasonable searches of your person or personal property. 

If you believe that your privacy rights have been violated, get advice from a labour and employment lawyer.  At Pak Smith Employment Lawyers, we specialize in workplace privacy. Find out about your privacy rights, what financial remedies may be available to you if your rights have been infringed.


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