Scott Gaylord analyzes Supreme Court arguments on California “Sexting” case with Fox 8 News
As the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments regarding a California police officer who claims a police department violated his employee privacy rights by reading text messages he sent, many of which were sexually explicit, on his company-owned pager, Elon Law professor Scott Gaylord told WGHP Fox 8 News the ruling could affect millions of people in the United States who also use company-issued phones and computers.
“This case deals with government employers, and the rules governing government employers are quite different than those governing private employers,” explained Gaylord. “Government employers are subject to the Fourth Amendment, and the government has held that you can engage in search and seizures if it is reasonable to do investigations. I think a lot of employees should be worried because private employers are not bound by the Fourth Amendment and have much greater latitude.”
Gaylord explained that this greater latitude for private employers also extends to searching emails, browsing history, and other things on a company computer or work-issued phone.
“A lot of us certainly go to work every day and do our jobs, but at different times may send a personal email, may go on the internet and search for Amazon and do a variety of things thinking that this is sort of our private time,” said Gaylord. “We’re doing our own business and [thinking] it’s no one else’s business, but employers do have the right to go and search those materials.”
Gaylord suggests re-reading your company’s email policies, especially for people that use company phones or computers for personal uses.
“If you have not read that policy you can still be charged with knowledge of that, and employers can take action, and employers have been taking more action against employees,” Gaylord said. “In a recent study, 20 percent of employers have fired employees in 2007 for improper email use, up from 14 percent in 2001. So, it’s becoming a bigger issue for employers, and employees need to be careful.”
To view Gaylord's interview with Fox 8 Morning News, click here, then scroll down to the Morning News Video section, and scroll through the video clips until the "Sexting and Supreme Court" segment appears.
By Danielle Appelman, L'12