man installing security camera

Is Workplace Surveillance Legal in Michigan?

With advancements in technology, workplace surveillance has become increasingly prevalent across the United States. Workplace surveillance is a practice that involves an employer monitoring their employees’ activities during work hours, both online and offline. Employers tend to use workplace monitoring to enhance productivity, protect data, and prevent misconduct by employees. However, workplace surveillance can raise various ethical and legal concerns. If you believe that your workplace rights have been violated do not hesitate to contact a skilled Marquette employment lawyer.

How Do Employers Monitor Employees?

Employers may have various methods of monitoring their employees. Some may be considered traditional or standard approaches while others rely on more advanced technologies.

  1. Video cameras: Some employers install either visible or hidden cameras in the workplace to monitor employee behavior.
  2. Computer monitoring: Employers can also track their employees’ computer activities like what websites they visit, emails they send, screenshots of their screens, and more.
  3. Biometrics: Some more advanced companies may use facial recognition or fingerprint analysis to monitor when an employee comes and goes as well as when they access certain areas of the building.
  4. Communication monitoring: In addition to emails sent and received, employers can monitor communications both on a company phone and on a business messaging platform.

Is Surveillance Legal in the Workplace?

In general, yes, surveillance is legal in the workplace. A Michigan employer is permitted to use video surveillance in the office to record employees given that there is a legitimate business purpose. However, they may not install cameras or other surveillance where an employee would have an expectation of privacy, like in a bathroom or other private area.

A legitimate business purpose where it might be necessary to monitor employees through a video recording could include providing security or preventing theft.

It is important to note that while video surveillance is perfectly legal, Michigan is a two-party consent state. This means that both or all parties involved in a conversation, phone call, or meeting must consent to have it recorded. To use audio recordings for surveillance or any other purpose an employer must gain consent from all parties involved.

What Issues Does Workplace Surveillance Raise?

Although it is legal and has potential benefits, workplace surveillance can lead to several issues.

  • It may decrease morale and job satisfaction as employees may feel that it is an invasion of privacy to be constantly monitored
  • Trust between employees and employers could fade due to excessive surveillance and could create a hostile or toxic work environment
  • Employees could become stressed and anxious, leading to a decrease in productivity as a result of a stressful work environment
  • There could be legal repercussions if employers do not ensure that their practices comply with all relevant federal and state laws
  • If data gets into the wrong hands there is a potential that the surveillance data could be misused

While monitoring employees has proven successful for some companies when done correctly, an excessive amount of surveillance can cause problems in the long run. Speak with an attorney for legal advice and assistance.

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