VIDEO: How Employers Can ‘Play by the Rules’ With Workplace Tech

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By Madison Alder

Technology in the workplace can increase communication, organization, production, and the possibility for things to go wrong.

If employers aren’t careful about what kind of technology they introduce into their offices and the policies they create for it, technology can become more of a burden than a blessing.

“I think the three big issues when you’re talking about technology in the workplace are data security, employee privacy, and the ability to really actively preserve and access the information that’s being communicated on the technology,” said Karla Grossenbacher, an attorney with Seyfarth Shaw in Washington, D.C. Grossenbacher spoke with Bloomberg BNA in a video interview after giving a presentation on the eWorkplace at the National Employment Law Institute’s Employment Law Update.

Employees don’t have a legal right to have certain technology in the workplace, Grossenbacher said, so it’s up to employers to choose wisely when it comes to what they will allow. After new technology is introduced, however, employers have to “play by the rules” when it comes to an employee’s expectation to privacy. There are state and federal legal restrictions that prevent employers from accessing communications through a device or website, she said.

Twenty-four states have laws that prohibit employers from asking for their employees’ social media account passwords, according to Grossenbacher. The Federal Stored Communications Act also limits an employer’s ability to access information on social media without their employees’ consent.

When it comes to social media and technology in the workplace, “the key is having really great policies,” Grossenbacher said. If employees buy into a company policy that allows the employer to access communications made in the workplace, “that’s how you get the ability to work around some of these legal restrictions,” Grossenbacher said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

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