Privacy in Employment Law, Fourth Edition with 2016 Cumulative Supplement

This treatise is a dependable reference on the law of privacy in the workplace, as addressed fragmentally in state and federal constitutions, statutes, and court decisions.



Know the extent—and limits—of individual rights and employer authority in this litigious area of workplace law

Privacy in Employment Law, Fourth Edition offers guidance on employee/employer rights and the limits of employer authority in securing information about applicants and employees, disclosing such information, and controlling activities in the U.S. workplace.

The author has meticulously assembled citations, definitions, practical examples, and guidance to help practitioners assess present legislation and judicial thinking on key issues in employment privacy. Privacy in Employment Law provides lists of relevant state laws addressing topics relating to workplace privacy, including drug testing, access to personnel files, lie detection, electronic monitoring, and more, in addition to offering text of selected foreign statutes and the European Union (EU) directive on privacy law. 

Highlights reflected in the Fourth Edition include: 

  • State legislation that regulates employer access to applicant and employee social media
  • State legislation that regulates use of information on credit-worthiness as a basis to deny employment 
  • The continuing judicial conflict on the standards governing employer monitoring of employee communications conducted via company-provided equipment, including the question of whether a blanket privacy disclaimer is sufficient to insulate employers from liability
  • The continuing judicial conflict on the question of whether an employee accessing an employer’s data for ulterior purposes violates federal law

The Fourth Edition also discusses whether a GPS device may be attached to an employee’s private vehicle by a public employer; whether an applicant’s status as unemployed may be used to deny consideration for employment; whether use of marijuana that is lawful under state law may be a ground for termination or for denial of unemployment compensation benefits; whether an employee may leave a firearm in a vehicle on the employer’s premises; and much more.

Author Matthew W. Finkin was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, “Employers Have Latitude in Monitoring Workers,” October 22, 2013. (Requires WSJ subscription to view.)

 The 2016 Cumulative Supplement updates the Fourth Edition with coverage including: 

  • Revised EEOC rules on “wellness” programs – defining permissible incentives to participate, voluntariness, and spousal disclosure of genetic information
  • ADA medical confidentiality for information disclosed to an employer directly by an employee
  • Revised OSHA rule on the relationship of drug testing to the reporting and recording of occupational injuries
  • New cases under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) on questions including: the need to show 
    damages in order to have standing, distinction between background checks and investigations into misconduct, and the nature of adequate notice
  • The status of a video tape as a “personal record” required to be retained under EEOC rules
  • The expectation of privacy in an office computer, of “swipe card” records of premises entrance and exit, and in a locker room, or in conversations inadvertently transmitted by a “pocket dialed” cell phone
  • Whether reports made to the government are absolutely or qualifiedly privileged
  • The lawfulness of an employer’s creation of a workplace permeated with the owner’s religious values
  • Employer use of employee social media activity as grounds for discharge or ineligibility for unemployment compensation benefits




Bloomberg BNA authors and editors are practicing professionals with insider perspectives and real-life experience. Learn more about this book’s authors and editors.
Matthew W. Finkin is the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law at the University of Illinois, where he also holds appointments in the Center for Advanced Study and the School of Labor and Employment Relations.


View full tables of contents and read the book’s preface or introduction.