Privacy in Employment Law, Fourth Edition, with 2017 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.

Meet The Author


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.




Part I. An Analysis of Privacy in the Employment Relationship


  • Medical Screening and Testing
  • Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Screening and Testing
  • Psychological Screening and Testing
  • Interviews and Background Investigation
  • Monitoring Employee Performance and Conduct
  • Control of Employees

Part II. Statutory and Regulatory References


  • Polygraphy and Lie Detection
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing
  • Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, or Lawful Products Outside the Workplace
  • Access to Personnel Records
  • Job Reference Immunity
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance


Part III. Comparative Law


EU; Canada; New South Wales, Australia; Portugal; France


Table of Cases




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 2017 Cumulative Supplement updates the Fourth Edition with coverage including: 

  • Whether class-based medical screening complies with the fitness for work limitation of the ADA
  • Prior criminal convictions as a disqualification for employment
  • Application of the FCRA to data intermediaries
  • Distinction between “fact” and “opinion” and the limits of privilege in defamation
  • Duties imposed on credit reporting agencies in dealing with public records
  • Right to display messages on one’s person in the private and public sectors
  • What constitutes acting “without authorization” in downloading information from an employer’s data storage under the CFAA
  • “Willfulness” for purposes of an FCRA violation



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.


Read what others have to say about this Bloomberg BNA book.

"The law of privacy in the workplace is governed by an often confusing array of statutory provisions and court decisions. This work provides a coherent overview of these disparate sources of law.”

Kendall F. Svengalis

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