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Safe for Work? Analyzing the Supreme Court's Standard of Privacy for Government Employees in Light of City of Ontario V. Quon

20 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2012 Last revised: 13 Jun 2012

Sheila Anne Bentzen

University of Iowa - College of Law

Date Written: March 6, 2012

Abstract

This note analyzes the need for the Supreme Court to develop a firm constitutional standard for determining whether a government search of a public employee is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Specifically, the note stresses that the test needs to take into account emerging technology and its impact on public employees’ privacy rights. To properly ground these issues in current law, I explore them through the lens of the Supreme Court’s two major opinions related to government searches of its employees — O’Connor v. Ortega and City of Ontario v. Quon. I then demonstrate that the Supreme Court has yet to produce a standard that adequately protects the privacy interests of public employees. To fill this gap in the law, I propose a balancing test that weighs the interests of both the government employer and the government employee. The test does so by considering the extent to which an employee’s work-related activity carries over into the private sphere of the home.

Keywords: Fourth Amendment, Right to Privacy, Government Employees, Constitutional Law

Suggested Citation

Bentzen, Sheila Anne, Safe for Work? Analyzing the Supreme Court's Standard of Privacy for Government Employees in Light of City of Ontario V. Quon (March 6, 2012). Iowa Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 4, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2017192

Sheila Anne Bentzen (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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