Category Archives: Privacy

What are the Legal Implications of Quitting Your Job?

What are the legal implications of quitting your job? Can you collect unemployment? Severance? What if you have a case and you quit (vs letting them fire you), will you still be able to take action? I answer all of those questions in this video.

My office gets a lot of calls from people who quit and still want to take action. This video details the critical things that lawyers look at in this situation.

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Filed under Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

How to Complain to Human Resources the Right Way

As with all things in life, making a complaint at work is a risk. If you complain to human resources the wrong way, you might get fired (it happens far more often than people think). That is why I took the time to make a video about the correct way to complain to HR.

This video will explain the five things you need to know before you complain about your issue at work. It also covers how HR will react to your complaint and what you should expect if they conduct an “investigation.”

If you found this to be helpful, please leave a comment below.

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Filed under Abuse, Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Verdicts, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

What does being an “at-will employee” actually mean? Can I get fired for “any reason”?

This is a very common question. At-will employment does not mean that the company can fire you for any reason they want. That is incorrect. In this video, employment attorney Branigan Robertson explains the at-will doctrine and how it actually works.

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Filed under Abuse, Age, Defamation, Disability, Discrimination, Employment Contract, FEHA, Harassment, Health Care, Layoffs, Leave of Absence, Pregnancy, Privacy, Race, Religion, Retaliation, Settlements, Severance, Verdicts, Wage & Hour, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination

Employers Invading Employee Privacy by Viewing Personal Text Messages

This article examines what privacy rights employees have in the workplace. Specifically, it concerns cell phones and text messages. Can your employer view your text messages? What about personal messages on your personal cell phone? What about personal text messages on a company phone? Can your employer view those? What about work text messages on your personal phone?

There are a lot of horror stories of employers invading the privacy of employees by accessing their cell phones and viewing their text messages. Can they do this? What does California law say about this? The relevant law at play here is Penal Code § 632.7.

Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who focuses his practice on sexual harassmentprivacy issues, and wrongful termination.

Employers Viewing Personal Text Messages | Employment Lawyer Branigan Robertson

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Personal Cell Phone vs. Company Cell Phone

First, there must be a distinction between a company issued cell phone and a private cell phone. Can an employer view your text messages on your personal cell phone? The answer is no. The answer can be found in the CA Penal Code section on Invasion of Privacy:

632.7. (a) Every person who, without the consent of all parties to a communication, intercepts or receives and intentionally records, or assists in the interception or reception and intentional recordation of, a communication transmitted between two cellular radio telephones, a cellular radio telephone and a landline telephone, two cordless telephones, a cordless telephone and a landline telephone, or a cordless telephone and a cellular radio telephone, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

…   (3) “Communication” includes, but is not limited to, communications transmitted by voice, data, or image, including facsimile.

This statute obviously prohibits a company from viewing private text messages on a private phone. A complementary statute (Penal Code 637.2) gives employees a private right of action against an employer who fires them for personal text messages on a personal cell phone.

What about work related text messages on your personal cell phone?

Same answer. Your employer would not have a right, absent a subpoena, to access your work text messages on your personal cell phone. But that is not an absolute answer. There are several exceptions:

  • If you are involved in a lawsuit and you are served with proper discovery, your employer would likely get access.
  • If you steal company intellectual property, the employer could probably serve you with a subpoena in relation to a lawsuit.
  • If you were texting with another person, and that person shows the text messages to your employer, you would be out of luck.

Do Employees Have Privacy Rights on Company Phones?

What about a personal text message on a company cell phone? Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court held that a company may view personal text messages on a company phone. It made this landmark decision in City of Ontario v. Quon in 2010

Even though Sgt. Jeff Quon of Ontario, Calif., had some expectation of privacy in his messages, the court said, the police department’s review — which turned up sexually explicit messages to his wife and his mistress — was justified. Even though the department told him and his co-workers that they should not expect privacy when using their pagers, they were also told that personal use would be tolerated to a certain degree.

Therefore, if you want to keep information private, you should not be sending personal text messages on a company phone!

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Filed under Privacy