Quick Tip: Monitoring Employees' Personal Communications

Generally the law gives employers broad rights to surveillance of their workplace, especially where company-owned devices are being used to communicate.

However, the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) provides civil and criminal penalties for violators who intercept electronic communications such as telephone, email, voicemail, among others. Even the "business purposes" exception in the ECPA does not absolve employers who are only permitted to monitor on business-related communications but must cease surveillance as soon as they are aware that the communication is personal. From the outset, employers in contravention of the ECPA would be liable for equitable damages; additionally, in the 11th Circuit (which includes Georgia) actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and litigation costs are awardable at the Court's discretion.