With new emerging technologies come changes to the business environment. This is especially true when it comes to the digital world where computers, cellphones, and other devices make interconnectivity a 24-hour affair. Due to this, , Pennsylvania employers and employees alike need to ensure that they are taking the proper steps to protect themselves.
One reason is because technology is blurring the line between business and personal activities. A recent lawsuit against a business is shining a light on this ever pertinent topic. There, a man was given a desktop computer by his employer so that he could work from home. The man ended up using the computer for both personal and professional purposes. As the man prepared to leave the company, he attempted to negotiate a settlement package, but no agreement was reached and he was terminated. Upon his filing of a wrongful termination lawsuit, the man’s employer obtained access to the computer where it found that the man may have been storing company secrets.
The company alleges that the man was hoarding the secrets in order to open up a rival company. The employee, on the other hand, claims that the company violated federal law when it essentially hacked into his computer, thereby gaining access to his personal information. So, the question becomes how far can a business reach into an individual’s life when the access to that life is through a company provided device?
This issue will be decided in court. But what does it mean for Pennsylvania businesses and workers? It means that they need to carefully analyze their employee handbooks as well as any employment contracts that may apply to them. Only by being clear in these documents can an employer and employee ensure that they have a full understanding of an employer’s reach via electronic devices. If you have concerns about how digital access may affect you or your business, then consider discussing the matter with a qualified business law attorney who can assist you in creating the types of documents you need to move forward in the business place with confidence