Employers can Search your Company Phone, Pager

In the first ruling on workplace texting, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that an Employer can search through a company-owned pager, and that this does not violate the employee’s right to privacy.

The case of City of Ontario, California vs. Quon described the City’s search of Police Sergeant Quon’s text messages – and discovered several texts that were private and sexually explicit. The reason for their search? The City of Ontario was trying to determine if city-employees needed additional numbers of minutes on their pagers (the pagers and cell phones were, of course, provided to the employees by the City). Sergeant Quon challenged the search, along with several of recipients of his text messages.

As long as the search was “not excessive in scope” and “motivated by a legitimate work purpose,” it should be considered legal.

Although this case deals with a public employee, the same rationale could certainly be used for the private sector as well. Bottom line: “Work” phones, pages, PDAs are for business purposes only.

Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs