Workplace Privacy:
Cases from the PRC Log Files


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September 1, 1995


There are ears everywhere

Paul, a computer technician, discovered that his employer had placed hidden microphones and cameras around the building to monitor the employees. His boss is an ex-cop. 05-144-96

Saddled with a thief's criminal record and can't find work

Larry's wallet was stolen. Apparently the thief committed some crimes while in the possession of Larry's ID. This resulted in information about criminal conduct, wrongfully attributed to Larry, making its way into the database of a company which keeps background check information about employees in the retail service sector. Larry was fired because of this erroneous information and can't find work. 01-119-96

The all-knowing credit card account

Tomaso was fired because of information provided to his employer by a company he did personal business with. A flower shop provided the employer a 3-page list covering his credit card transactions with them over a 3-month period. The list included the name of the person who received the flowers, the dates of delivery, and the wording of the messages on the cards that accompanied the flowers. Tomaso happens to be in the military and was under investigation for fraternization. 08-424-95

Phone monitoring leads to loss of job

Evelyn worked for the customer services department of a utility company for 27 years. The company tapes some of the phone calls to monitor for quality of service. She was fired and was told it was because her taped calls showed poor performance. Evelyn says that many of the older employees who are close to retirement are losing their jobs, and are being told it's because of the contents of taped calls. She has contacted the union but was told they can do nothing. Evelyn says that when she asked to listen to some of the tapes, she was told they had been destroyed. 08-539-95

Intrusive interview process

Manuel applied for a job and had an initial interview by phone. The company called him back to arrange for an in-person interview, a good sign, he thought. Before the interview was scheduled , the company sent him a packet of forms to sign. Manuel was being asked to sign waivers allowing a private investigator to conduct a background check, an authorization form for a credit report, the release of his school records, and permission for the company to conduct interviews with his neighbors. He felt this was an excessive privacy intrusion. 07-693-95

Now everyone knows

Katrina is a felon, and was upfront with her employer about this. He went to the courthouse and obtained a copy of her record. He passed it out to other employees and some of her friends. 07-185-95

How to make money by selling old resumes

Margaret works for a software company as the human resources manager. She recently received a fax which suggested her company could make money by selling copies of the resumes of job applicants who weren't hired. "There's gold in your files. Un-used resumes can be worth a fortune to you," said the fax. "Save those resumes and call us today. Find out how we can turn the resumes you don't need into long term cash. Call for details: xxx-yyyy." Margaret was shocked at this business practice and decided to call the number provided on the fax. She was told that she had reached a head hunter company, looking for people "in transition" for a client overseas. If any of the individuals whose resumes Margaret were to provide to the company ended up being hired, Margaret would get part of the commission. Margaret contacted us to see if we knew if this was legitimate. We told her that at the very least, the head hunter had violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act by sending a "junk fax." 03-162-95

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