An employer can accumulate a significant amount of personal information about its employees, whether the information is gathered as part of a formal screening process or is learned over the course of the relationship. Privacy laws limit what employers can do with employee information, but Nevada workers need to understand when privacy rights apply, and when they don’t.
Employers must safeguard certain kinds of employee information
Employers are required to keep some types of employee information strictly confidential. Medical records fall into this category. Federal law requires employers to keep medical records apart from other records pertaining to the employee, with access limited to very narrow circumstances. This protection extends to information about an employee’s disability, information obtained in the course of a routine medical examination, and information collected in support of an employee’s leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Nevada law has similar protections for information related to an employee’s workers’ compensation claims.
Various laws also protect some types of information that employers routinely collect as part of their pre-employment screening process. If an employer conducts criminal background checks or credit checks, it must get the applicant’s permission and ensure that such records are properly disposed of. Under Nevada law, an employer cannot request user names and passwords for an applicant’s social media accounts.
Finally, although employers are entitled to know a good deal about what happens in the workplace, employees are still entitled to a degree of privacy while at work. Obviously, employees expect privacy in places like bathrooms and changing areas. Personal phone calls and personal email accounts are also generally off limits absent additional facts. In Nevada, phone calls and conversations cannot lawfully be recorded without the consent of both parties. NRS 200.650.
Where employee rights to privacy end
Employees are entitled to a degree of privacy even while they are at work, but employers still can intrude upon seemingly private matters, especially where an employee does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. In the era of company-issued cell phones and computers, the employee’s use of employer-owned equipment is an especially important area where privacy is not protected. In most circumstances, any business conducted on company-owned equipment, whether phone calls or electronic communications, can be monitored.
Bear in mind that some kinds of employment prescreening records are not necessarily private. For example, a check for criminal history or credit information is based on public records. Although an employee who is harmed by inappropriate use of such information may have a cause of action under other theories, privacy may not apply.
GGRM helps Las Vegas workers protect their rights
At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we have seen many examples of employers not respecting the privacy rights of their employees, especially in cases involving injury. If you think your privacy rights have been violated and you’d like to consult with one of our attorneys, please call us today at 702-388-4476. We can also be reached through our contact page.