1. In the Quon V. Ontario case, the police officers filed a lawsuit even thought they were not fired for the information that the police chief learned about their text messages. How, if at all, is someone harmed simply by another person reading private text messages? This case centered on the apparent right of privacy. DesJardin’s described privacy as “…important because it serves to define one’s individuality” (p. 142). It is likely Jeff Quan did not give any indication to his peers of his outlandish sexual preferences, although he kept it private these character traits gave him is individuality.
DesJardin concludes, “that certain personal decisions and information are rightfully the exclusive domain of the individual” (p. 142). Therefore, the content of Mr. Quan’s text messages was private and he had the right to “be informed about any information that employers possess or gather…”(p. 143). Furthermore, this information is not relevant to work tasks or performance. Jeff Quan understood opinions are very difficult to remove and carry biases. The proverbial Pandora’s Box opened when the police chief read the officers text messages without consent.
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It is impossible to un-read what was contained the messages; the chief will always know and remember Mr. Quan’s sexual preferences and judge him accordingly. Jeff Quan had a reasonable assumption his messages were private and were only pertinent between his girlfriend and himself. If he knew his messages would be subject to scrutiny and made public to his superiors it is likely he would have not discussed this information. It would be the equivalent of sharing secrets loudly next to the office gossip queen. Side Note: I looked up this case. I worded my response as per the information given in the book.
However, in this specific case, a previous standing “computer policy” clearly informed employees of their expectation to privacy. It states the City “reserves the right to monitor and log all network activity including e-mail and Internet use, with or without notice. Users should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using these resources. ” Although it did not specifically address text messages in the policy, the City made it clear that text messages would be treated as E-mail’s and Mr. Quan was aware of the policy. The decision was made from the letter of the policy instead of the spirit.
Quan had no right to privacy and had previously consented to the policy. As DesJardin’s asks, “Has the employee given his or her fully informed and voluntary consent to the loss of personal information? ” (p. 144). In this situation Jeff Quan did and got very lucky as a result of a loophole. 2. Both Swann and Leone were fired for what they posted to Facebook. Should they have been surprised that their employers might read their postings? It is unknown if Colvin knew about or consented to having his pictures posted to Facebook. What issues does this raise.
Swann and Leone relinquish a portion of their right to privacy by participating on a social networking site such as Facebook. In DesJardin’s opinion, “limiting access of personal information only to those with whom one has a personal relationship is an important way to preserve one’s own personal integrity and individuality” (p. 142). Swann and Leone lost the ability to limit and restrict the chain of information flow. In this instance, these two publicized their dissatisfaction publically for anyone to read. They would have done equal damage by sending their Facebook post as an email to their boss.
Although, this argument is assuming the employer has the right to terminate employment based on employee dissatisfaction. With due process, these employees could have made an argument for their jobs. Furthermore, another argument exists that their comments, although negative toward the company, are irrelevant to the employment contract and have no effect on performance. It was also unknown to them these comments would be recorded and used without the employees consent, if it had been known; it is likely they would have acted otherwise.
Similarly, Colvin also surrendered his right to control of private information when he decided to participate on Facebook. However, Colvin situation differs from Swann and Leones because he did not post the incriminating picture, Swann and Leone implicated themselves. Additionally, Colvin’s misconduct did affect work performance; he lied to skip work and was caught. Although he did not provide the evidence himself, he should have been aware of the possibility arising due to Facebook (esp. after going to a Halloween party, probably the most photographed night, as far as pictures on Facebook, are concerned).
This all results in an employee’s awareness of what information is shared about them. If there is a relative risk of private information being publically accessed than the employee should take necessary steps to restrict the flow of personal information. A funny parallel: A friend of mine deleted everyone she encountered the night before to prevent pictures surfacing of the nights activities. As outrageous as that sounds, she did what was required to restrict private information from surfacing on Facebook. 3. In both the Swann and Leone cases the employers did not give the employee and option to explain or appeal their decisions.
Should they have? In those instances, I believe due process was appropriate. They did not reveal trade secrets or detrimentally harm the company, they were just off hand comments any dissatisfied employee might say and any given time. They were also not informed their netiquette on Facebook had any connection to their employment status. If employers abuse their power and whimsically terminate employees they are treating them as property; a resource they can dispose of at will. Given this viewpoint, an employee would then be an asset (until terminated).
Any decisions concerning the removal of an asset for a corporation should have a process of consideration. Therefore, the company owes it itself due process. Although a manager may have had the power to fire Swann and Leone they did not have the authority. Additionally, in my opinion, a corporation owes a burden of due process to the government and society. Without a job these two have the chance of becoming burdens of the state. Shouldn’t the company evaluate if they will receive better job performance through termination and hiring of someone new?
Due process would likely be cheaper and more efficient than hiring someone new. 4. Do you disagree with any of the actions of the employers in these cases? Why or why not? As with the prisoner dilemma of game theory, the company will try to do what is best for itself and the employee will attempt to do what is best for him; they will be at equilibrium when they cooperate. This will result in the best possible outcome for both parties. Considering this, I cannot judge a company based on how they handled these employees, they are simply looking out for their best interest.
It would be in both the employee and employers best interest work out some form of due process but neither party is likely to identify it. Additionally, I am certain most companies know the value of their employees and can determine which to be true assets. If they were instrumental in the success of the company, a much deeper process would need to be determined if their actions warrant dismissal. For example, consider Charlie Sheen’s current escapades: how much are the ratings that directly attribute to his role on ‘Two and a Half Men’ worth to CBS? They did not terminate the seasons over one tweet or Facebook post. . If you were responsible for hiring employees, would you look to a Website such as Facebook to gather information about them? I have and will again utilize available information while making hiring decisions. If firms should have values and a philosophy, I believe information gathered through social networking and the internet, although bias, can give an accurate picture of an employee’s values and philosophy. You can at least determine how intelligent they are; Facebook is not new, it is very easy to restrict un-authorized people from viewing your private information.
If it truly is so bad that your company should not know, then it should not be on there. If they are not intelligent enough to realize the implication of a publically accessible picture of them doing drugs then they should not work for me. As I stated before, when becoming a user of Facebook you are aware you are connecting your information to everyone you know, it is ultimately your responsibility to censor that information. I would of course, inform the individual of my choice to search for them during the application process.