Benchmark – Employee Monitoring and Religion in a Community Context
Overview of Employee Monitoring
Employee monitoring was a primary role of the organization’s manager prior to the information age. Today, a plethora of technological advancements have made employee monitoring become a simple task. Employee monitoring is defined by Manokha (2020) as the action of watching and observing the employee’s activities for the duration of their work hours while using the employer’s equipment or property.
Employee monitoring in various forms, including video and surveillance cameras, has primarily replaced one-on-one monitoring by employers/managers. While some employees believe that their close monitoring violates their work ethics, confidentiality, and privacy, others do not. However, as stated further below, new technologies must adhere to laws, regulations, and ethical principles.
Relevant Laws Relating to the Ability of Employers to Monitor Employees
Employers are prohibited by law from monitoring employees during non-work hours or activities. According to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), it is illegal for an employer to monitor and conduct surveillance of employee activities, including off-the-job meetings (Block, 2021). On the other hand, employers are permitted to monitor employees who use company equipment—computers—while at home or off-duty.
According to the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), an employer-provided computer is a property of the employer (Komisarenko, 2021), and if the employer provides the employee with the company computer and internet, the employer has the mandate to monitor and supervise the employee.
Two Legal Standards and Regulations for Workplace Employee Monitoring Critical for Successful Business Operations
Courts have generally agreed that an employee does not have the right to privacy when using an employer-issued and owned device. According to one court ruling, even if an employer promised the employee privacy in their email conversations, that their emails would not be intercepted, and that they would not be reprimanded or terminated based on the contents of their emails, the employee, after his termination, could not assert that his reliance on the employee’s promises could prevent his termination.
In other states, an employer is not required to fire an employee who engages in legal activities while off the clock as long as the activities do not interfere with the employer’s business. Therefore, employers must develop business policies that dictate desired and undesirable activities during non-work hours and off-duty.
Two Cases Which Involved Employee Monitoring Outside Workplace and Work Hours
Smith and his boss were fired after an email exchange in which the content discussed some employees in an unprofessional manner. Smith sued the company for wrongful termination, but he lost the case despite using his home computer during non-work hours. The judge explained that the emails were sent to the company and justified Smith’s dismissal.
Dr. Paul, a medical doctor who worked at the Lankenau Hospital, was involved in a different case in 1990. Dr. Paul was fired, so he sued for defamation and requested reinstatement. Dr. Paul took home five hospital refrigerators that had been discarded by the hospital, and he obtained permission first.
Unfortunately, Dr. Paul did not obtain the appropriate permission. A jury determined that he should be reinstated and compensated for any harm caused by the defamation. However, an appellate court overturned Dr. Paul’s reinstatement, stating that the law does not permit the firing of an employee for relying on an employer’s promises.
Court’s Holding and Reasoning
Both court rulings were justified. In Smith’s case, even though he used his personal computer, the email discussed other employees negatively and used the company email. According to Cortina et al. (2022), employees should not tarnish the names of other employees or become offensive to them during working or non-working hours.
In Dr. Paul’s case, he should have obtained permission from the appropriate authorities. The permission could have been obtained through a written appeal to the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, an event that could have forestalled his termination otherwise.
Ethical Issues Regarding Employer Monitoring of Employees During Nonwork Hours
Employee monitoring during non-work hours can be very intrusive into the employee’s life. Some constitutions guarantee the right to privacy, which prohibits an employer from monitoring an employee after work hours while they are at home (Latonero, 2018).
Employee monitoring technologies can be used in companies that deal with data and other sensitive information; however, the monitoring process must be done in a transparent manner that complies with laws, regulations, and ethical principles. This prevents any unauthorized installation or harmful use of company technologies in employees’ homes.
How Employee Monitoring Affects Business Decisions
Employee monitoring, when done correctly, allows businesses to determine how employees spend their time, which influences productivity. Productive time is the amount of time during which employees perform useful work in the business or company or the actual time they work (Yin et al., 2019).
Monitored employees will put in more effort to the business, staying productive and focused, thus becoming more effective and efficient. Employees who are not monitored, on the other hand, become relaxed, less focused, less effective, and less efficient (Yin et al., 2019).
Employers can understand their employees’ work patterns and trends and work on employee improvement strategies. Businesses can thus identify and deal with unproductive employees and eliminate unwanted and unlawful discriminatory behavior among employees.
Should Employee Monitoring During Nonwork Hours and Nonwork Activities Be Allowed?
Employers usually have valid reasons for conducting employee monitoring using effective and legal tools. Employers must, however, respect employees’ constitutional, statutory, common law, and contractual rights to limit monitoring when making monitoring decisions.
Every business should state the laws and policies governing employee monitoring so that employees are aware of what is expected of them. Employees who are informed about the importance and implications of monitoring cannot accuse their employer of violating their privacy.
If monitoring increases employee productivity, an employer or business should consider it; however, if it compromises or has no effect on the business and its productivity, there is no need. As a result, weighing the benefits and drawbacks of employee monitoring is required prior to its implementation.
Laws, Regulations and Effects of Religious-Based Lawsuits on Business and Public Schools
No one should face discrimination in the workplace or in public schools because of their religious beliefs. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 established and protected the laws and regulations. The act prohibits employers from using religious backgrounds to make hiring, promotion, compensation, discharge, and employment terms decisions (Azouz et al., 2022).
The use of religious factors in determining employment terms and making other decisions limits other people’s job opportunities. As a result, employers, bound by law and in their right conscious, should try to accommodate any employee who provides advance notice of any religious time off.
Supreme Court Decision in Business and Public Schools Where Freedom of Religion was Supported or Denied by the Court
The first case depicting a Supreme Court decision on religious issues is Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe from the year 2000. The court was to decide whether the school’s policy allowing student-led and initiated prayer at football games violated the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause.
The First Amendment stated that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances (Congress. gov, 2021).
The court rejected the school district’s position, stating that because the students organized the pregame chant through voting, it was private speech protected by the First Amendment’s “Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses.” In his court opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens stated that it was a public speech because the message was delivered over the school’s public address system by a student under the supervision of the school faculty.
In terms of business, here is an example of a US Supreme Court ruling in favor of religious beliefs. On Sundays, Pennsylvania’s ‘blue law’ prohibited certain activities, such as shopping. While some stores remained open, others owned by Jews who were deeply rooted in Jewish traditions and religion were closed from Friday nightfall to Saturday nightfall. The court ruled that the blue law did not infract the Free Exercise Clause because it had a spiritual basis and did not violate any religious laws.
Ethical Basis for Allowing Religion to be a Factors in Business and Public Schools
Religion has long played a role in shaping a country’s economic life. Religion influences employee behavior, which has an impact on the business’s productivity. For example, the Bible says that those who work hard will be rewarded for their efforts (Thiessen, 2018). Employees of a business will tend to work hard, increasing the company’s productivity.
Similarly, in public schools, the spirit of hard work is promoted by religion and instilled in students. The students learn that the only way to succeed in life is to work hard, just as the Bible encourages. As a result, as employees and students advance in their professions and studies, they develop a culture of hard work and are ethical in their endeavors.
What the Government and Courts Allow as far as Accommodations in Business and Public Schools
Governments and courts allow businesses and public schools to accommodate the religious beliefs of their employees and students respectively. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their religious beliefs or other personal characteristics (Block, 2021).
Even if businesses and public schools cannot meet all of their employees’ requests, they should make every effort to accommodate their religious beliefs and practices. On the other hand, businesses must make it clear in their hiring policies what they consider and can accommodate as desired behaviors and beliefs among employees, so that employees do not have issues after joining the companies.
Under Which Circumstances Should Employers be Allowed to Limit Freedom of Religion in the Workplace
When religion interferes with the employer’s business operations, the employer has every right to limit religious freedom in his workplace. This necessitates a reasonable accommodation of employees’ religious beliefs, a decision made after consultation and extensive research into the beliefs and practices of the religion yet to be accommodated.
Suppose a religion causes hardship for the employers’ business, such as resulting in costly operations or an unsafe workplace. In that case, the religion is deemed hostile to business operations and must not be accommodated.
Date: May 7th, 2022
To: Mr. ABC, CEO
From: (My Name)
Re: Safety for All Employed
It is appropriate that you be informed of the changes that are yet to be implemented. The ‘Smoke Free Arizona Act’ is a health and safety law that prohibits smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces. According to the act, employees are not permitted to smoke within 20 feet of the entrances, open windows, or ventilation systems (Reynolds, 2020). There will be designated smoking areas for employees who smoke, which smokers are expected to use.
The company has yet to implement a method of testing employees for cannabis use, and all employees are candidates for testing. Despite the fact that the company is aware of Proposition 207, which legalizes the use of marijuana, the company’s policy forbids the use of marijuana or its products within the company. If any employee feels unsafe or that the tests infringe on their rights, they have the right to refuse. Employees who fail to follow company policies face penalties, including a warning, suspension, or termination.
I am also aware of employees who may require different scheduling due to religious differences. I am aware that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that no employer may discriminate against employees based on their religious beliefs. Furthermore, I am aware of the provision that states that the policy may be violated “if the employees’ beliefs cause hardship or interfere with the employer’s business operations” (Azouz et al., 2022).
Following the provisions stated in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, I hereby bring to your attention that if anyone is subject to the provision, please notify us so that we can make early adjustments on a first-come, first-served basis. Let it be known that our company is a law-abiding business that defends our employees’ rights under any circumstances. However, it should also serve as a warning that no employer should take advantage of our good deeds for their own gain.
- Azouz, A., Antheaume, N., & Charles-Pauvers, B. (2022). Looking at the sky: An ethnographic study of how religiosity influences business family resilience. Family Business Review, 089448652210953. https://doi.org/10.1177/08944865221095323
- Block, S. (2021). Rights not interests: Resolving value clashes under the national labor relations act by James A. gross. Labor Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, 18(1), 113–115. https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8767471
- Congress. gov. (2021). First Amendment. https://cоnstіtutіоn.cоngrеss.gоv/cоnstіtutіоn/аmеndmеnt-1/.
- Cortina, L. M., Sandy Hershcovis, M., & Clancy, K. B. H. (2022). The embodiment of insult: A theory of biobehavioral response to workplace incivility. Journal of Management, 48(3), 738–763. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206321989798
- Komisarenko, A. (2021). SОCІАL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS А MECHANISM FOR SОCІАL TRАNSFОRMАTІОN AND SUSTАІNBLE BUSINESS DEVELОPMENT. Law and Public Administration, 1, 146–153. https://doi.org/10.32840/pdu.2021.1.22
- Latonero, M. (2018). Governing artificial intelligence: UPHOLDING HUMAN RIGHTS & DIGNITY. Datasociety.Net. https://datasociety.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/DataSociety_Governing_Artificial_Intelligence_Upholding_Human_Rights.pdf
- Manokha, I. (2020). The implications of digital employee monitoring and people analytics for power relations in the workplace. Surveillance & Society, 18(4), 540–554. https://doi.org/10.24908/ss.v18i4.13776
- Mirabito, M., & Morgenstern, B. (2018). The New Communications Technologies. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780080470184
- Reynolds, K. (2020). Smoked out: The intersection between tobacco research and tobacco policy in Arizona [The University of Arizona.]. https://repository.arizona.edu/handle/10150/651375
- Thiessen, E. J. (2018). The scandal of evangelism: A biblical study of the ethics of evangelism. Cascade Books. https://books.google.at/books?id=uw5ZDwAAQBAJ
- Yin, Y., Wang, Y., & Lu, Y. (2019). Antecedents and outcomes of employee empowerment practices: A theoretical extension with empirical evidence. Human Resource Management Journal, 29(4), 564–584. https://doi.org/10.1111/1748-8583.12243