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Privacy and the Workplace

Everyone in our democratic society has expectations of privacy in their personal lives subject only to certain governmental intrusion that is necessary to preserve law and order. Most people also believe it is reasonable to expect that these rights will also exist when they apply for work or are at their places of employment. These expectations are frequently rooted in the belief that the U.S. Constitution guarantees individuals certain rights of privacy that do not stop when they cross the threshold into the workplace. Those beliefs are frequently developed or influenced by their exposure to the media in this country. Alcohol or tobacco usage, financial status, memberships in organizations, hobbies, friends, romantic relationships and personal conversations seem to be off limits to prospective or current employers. Individuals are often shocked and sometimes irate, therefore, when they learn that these rights either do not exist or are conditioned upon their activities and conduct inside and outside of the workplace. This course will review these various expectations, the existence of constitutional and statutory protections, and the developing case law that apply to privacy in the employment context. We will survey the most recent legislative and international attempts to extend privacy rights to the workplace and we will use hypothetical case studies to better define the issues and to explore the balancing of rights in this area between employees and their employers.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.