In Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Company, police officer Quon sued a wireless company and his employer City of Ontario for violating his privacy by accessing his personal text messages sent by way of an employer-provided pager. Quon had signed an employer policy that prohibited personal use of electronic equipment and warned that employees "should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using these [electronic] resources." However, a city administrator told Quon and other officers that management would not audit pager use so long as the employee paid for any "overages," i.e., for excess use. Indeed, Quon paid for overages on several occasions. Later, management audited Quon's messages and found many personal, sexually explicit messages. The court opined that if the employer had followed its written policy, then Quon would have no expectation of privacy in his pager use. However, the city administrator's statement that management would not audit pager use, and Quon's payment for overages effectively vitiated the policy and created an expectation of privacy for Quon under the Fourth Amendment in his use of the pager to send and receive personal text messages. Although this decision involved a public sector employment relationship where Fourth Amendment rights exist, it is a cautionary tale for public and private employers to avoid statements and practices at variance with official policy.
- Checklist Checklist: GDPR compliance self-assessment audit (UK)
- Checklist Checklist: Conducting a competition compliance audit (UK) Recently updated
- Checklist Checklist: Reviewing a confidentiality agreement (receiving party) (USA)