Last Friday, June 17th, the Supreme Court of the United States allowed an appeal of a much discussed workplace privacy case – Quon v. Arch Wireless.
The Court’s decision is of limited authority because it assumed that the employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages sent and received from his employer-issued device. Having made this assumption, the Court held that the employer’s search was lawful because it was motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose and was not excessive in scope.
I’ll leave the commentary on this American case to the American commentators and have included some links below. For Canadian employers, my view is much like that of Philip Gordon of Littler Mendelson, who uses Quon to warn employers about heavy reliance on the “no expectation of privacy” view. See this article for my rationale.
- No Question about Quon: U.S. Supreme Court Unanimous in Overturning Ninth Circuit (Proskauer Rose)
- Quon Decision Provides Useful Guidance for Private Employers While Skirting Broad Pronouncements on Employee Privacy Rights (Littler Mendelson)
- Government Employer’s Search of Employee’s Text Messages on Employer-Issued Pager Did Not Violate Fourth Amendment (K&L Gates)
- Hopeful Signs in Supreme Court’s New Text Messaging Privacy Decision, City of Ontario v. Quon (Electronic Frontier Foundation)