Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Employment-related opinions issued by the Supreme Court

Employment-related opinions issued by the Supreme Court

Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP
Cicely I. Lubben USA July 6 2010
Following up on our article last month summarizing the status of various Supreme Court cases, the Court has issued decisions in the two employment-related cases that were pending.
Texting Privacy: On June 17, 2010, the Supreme Court in City of Ontario v. Quon, held that a public employer's work-related search of a police officer's personal text messages on a government issued pager did not violate Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Although the employer had a written no-privacy policy, the officer's supervisor had verbally informed employees that they would be allowed to use their pagers for personal reasons outside the scope of the no-privacy policy if the employees paid for any excess usage charges. When the officer and others in his department subsequently exceeded the usage limits on their pagers for several months running, the employer sought to determine whether the existing usage limit was too low to accommodate all work-related text messages. In reviewing transcripts of the officer's text messages, the employer discovered that many were not work-related, and some were sexually explicit. As a result, the employer disciplined the officer.
The Court concluded that the employer's search of the officer's personal text messages did not violate his Fourth Amendment privacy rights because the search was reasonable.

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