Employees Have Accepted Their Big Brother

by Cozen O'Connor

Have we finally reached the point where employees not only accept, but actually like when their employers monitor their computer activities? Really? Well, maybe “like” is a bit of a stretch still, but employees have apparently accepted it. At least according to a survey just issued by SpectorSoft.

The survey was conducted with 300 full-time employees over the age of 18 in the fourth quarter of 2012, and revealed some interesting points. First, some very stark graphics were used to illustrate the reason underlying employers’ desire to monitor in the first place. Companies with at least 100 employees were found to have “productivity losses of 13,750 hours annually, equivalent to paying seven full time employees to do nothing all year.” And, companies with at least 5,000 employees were found to have “productivity losses of 687,500 hours annually, equivalent to paying 344 employees to do nothing all year.” It is clearly a problem affecting small and large companies, and, either way, crystalizes the need for employers to (lawfully) monitor what their employees are doing during working time.

But the survey also reveals an interesting second side of the ledger: three quarters of all employees surveyed said that they accepted the fact that employers may monitor their computer activities. And beyond that, the “glad” even exceeded the “mad”. That is, while nine percent of employees surveyed said they were mad about being monitored, sixteen percent admitted to being glad that work activities are being monitored by the company. Still a bit to go, but the trend is more than a little noteworthy.

Employer Take Away: What should you as an employer take away from this development?   

Employers may have cleared the first hurdle. The right to privacy was that big, initial objection; that daunting rock wall that employers had to clear at the start of the obstacle course that is e-mail and social media mining. But employees may no longer have an intrinsic objection to the notion of monitoring, at least on basic privacy grounds. Whether that is true acceptance (or even liking it), or merely a resignation to reality, employees are apparently used to it by now, and, in most cases, employers are getting their employees to acknowledge and consent to internal monitoring policies anyway.

There are, however, still hurdles in the way of the finish line, many of which (certainly from an employment law standpoint) cannot be waived by an employee. Understanding the appropriate and lawful monitoring in which you can engage is critical. So is your answer to the following questions:

  • Are you learning too much of the protected class stuff by monitoring e-mail and social media?
  • Are you impermissibly regulating how and when your employees engage in lawful recreational activities protected by state law?
  • Are you monitoring (and recording) time worked by your employees outside of the office through an electronic device or social media, and then paying your employees accordingly?
  • Are you making rash employment decisions based on what an employee does or says on social media?
  • Are you sure the personal device your employee uses to access your company’s e-mail and data is safe from a cyber-attack, or that it can be appropriately “wiped” of confidential information when the employee leaves?
  • Have you given proper thought to these questions in the past month?

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Cozen O'Connor | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Cozen O'Connor

Cozen O'Connor on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.