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R. V Cole-employees right to privacy

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R. V Cole-employees right to privacy

A controversial legal topic in Employment Law is the right to privacy at the work place in relation to the company’s equipment (e.g. computers) as used by the employees. Can employers view files saved on their computers, monitor the sites visited, by their employees who operate them? Are they allowed to check personal emails of the employees? Can they go to the extent of even installing software that will track everything their employees do? Do the employers have a right to sack employees for exploiting their privacy at the work place? Or is the employees right to privacy paramount so that even an employer is not allowed to delimit it?

R. V Cole-employees right to privacy

Proposers to this idea have claimed that the right to privacy is paramount while the opposing side feel that employees have the capacity to challenge this right. In Canada, the protection of the right to privacy for federal employees is governed by the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

The case of R. V Cole raised a question as to whether employees may have privacy when using corporate equipment, in this case a computer. A laptop that was owned by a school but always operated by a teacher, was found to contain images that were inappropriate, and even included nude photos of a student.

Unreasonable intrusion into someone’s privacy is unacceptable and every person has a basic right to privacy. The decision in the case of Cole follows a bone of contention as to what extent the right to privacy of employees in a workplace should be upheld. The argument set forth was that it related specifically to the right of police in conducting a search and the admissibility of such evidence obtained without a search warrant.

Opposing sides feel that it was the foundation of a change in law to provide more privacy rights for the employees. According to them, the employers have to keep the acts of their employees in check for safety and performance issues. What if the employee has used the corporate’s equipment to damage the reputation of the company? It is only fair that the company takes action against the employer regardless of his privacy rights when using such equipment.