Industrial Justice: Privacy Protection for the Employed

81 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 May 2010

See all articles by Ariana R. Levinson

Ariana R. Levinson

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: September 17, 2008


As the nineteenth century drew to a close, Samuel Warren & Louis D. Brandeis proclaimed that technological change necessitated new protections for the right to privacy. Today, new protections for the right to privacy are called for once again because, in the American workplace, technological change continues unabated and little privacy is afforded employees from employer monitoring using the technology. Moreover, employers are disciplining and terminating employees based on information uncovered by monitoring. Recently, many employees have been terminated for off-duty blogging. Employees are often disciplined for using e-mail for personal reasons while at work. And global positioning systems ("GPS") have been relied on to discipline drivers and other employees.

This is the first academic article to provide a detailed review of labor arbitration decisions governing the right to privacy from employer monitoring in over thirty years. The article uses the decisions, on employee privacy and technologies such as GPS, e-mail, and the Internet, as a springboard to propose privacy protections in the non-Union private sector workplace. It, thus, fills a gap in the academic literature. The framework suggested provides the greatest protection for off-duty behavior, intermediate protection for on-duty expression of thought, such as through computer usage, and baseline protection for on-duty actions. It could be implemented through legislation of minimum rights or mandates for employers to adopt safe-harbor policies.

Keywords: privacy, arbitration, labor, employment, technology, monitoring

JEL Classification: J29, J52, K31

Suggested Citation

Levinson, Ariana R., Industrial Justice: Privacy Protection for the Employed (September 17, 2008). Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 18, p. 609, 2009, University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2010-01, Available at SSRN:

Ariana R. Levinson (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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