Google Glass – Get Ahead of the Employment Law Issues It Will Cause

Winstead PC

Google Glass, at its base, is an eyeglass frame with a camera and display built into the temple. The user operates it with finger swipes, head movements and voice commands.  The camera records the user’s first-person perspective, and whatever may be appearing before him or her at any given time. Realizing the potential privacy issues raised by Google Glass, many companies spanning across numerous industries have taken proactive steps to ban them.  As described by Albert Costill in the following Search Engine Journal article, bars, casinos, concert venues, and even strip clubs, have prohibited them, for obvious reasons.

Employers should also consider adopting policies and procedures to govern their employees’ use of Google Glass in the workplace.  Privacy and harassment issues could arise when an employee-user secretly films or takes photos with the Glass of his or her co-workers in the workplace. Trade secret issues could also arise should the employee-user capture confidential and proprietary information and either immediately upload it via the Glass to the public on the internet or save it in the Glass’ physical storage for later disclosure.  The same result could occur with respect to other sensitive information relating to protected health information and confidential investigations. Be warned though. The National Labor Relations Board is now at full strength and increasingly aggressive.  Based on some of the NLRB’s prior opinions on social media and workplace investigations, it’s not inconceivable that the NLRB could determine that – in certain situations – banning Google Glass from the workplace constitutes a violation of an employee’s right to engage in protected concerted activity.

Consumer versions of Google Glass should hit the marketplace later this year.  So employers still have time to consider the ramifications in the workplace of this ground-breaking product, and how best to address them.

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.

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