E-mail, telecommuting, working while traveling on business... The world of work has benefited greatly from the advancement of technology and the widespread internet connection that prevails today.
However, one must be vigilant. The risks of abuse, both from the employee and the employer, are never far away.
It often happens that an employer "googles" a candidate before meeting him/her to gather certain information. Sometimes they come across private information (marriage, children, hobbies, religious, political or associative affiliations) or compromising information (photos from a drunken party). Does he have the right to use this information to refuse to hire a candidate?
The employee often has the feeling of being in private while using social networks. He/she sometimes take advantage of this to make inappropriate or insulting comments to their employer or colleagues.
Some of these behaviors, particularly when the employee violates a business or trade secret, may under certain conditions constitute violations of the Unfair Competition Act.
The consequences of such conduct will depend on the circumstances. The employer must react quickly if it wants to safeguard his/her interests.
The employer is obliged to protect the personality of his/her employees and to protect them from sexual or moral harassment in the workplace. Due to the advancement of technology, these conflict situations sometimes move to the Internet and social networks. What is the employer's responsibility in such a case?
Surveillance at work
Internet at work is a delicate tool to handle. Employees sometimes abuse this connection and take advantage of it to visit illegal or immoral sites. Even when these sites are harmless, they can be detrimental to the employee's productivity or overload the company's Internet connection capacity.
If the company wants to monitor the use of the Internet at work and be able to take sanctions in case of abuse, it is imperative to take measures beforehand. If the company does not establish a regulation on the use and monitoring of the Internet in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Data Protection Commissioner, the monitoring will be unlawful, even if the employee has violated his obligations.
When one speaks of sexual harassment, the first behaviors that come to mind are touching, hands on the backside or rude and sexist remarks. However, an employee's involuntary exposure to pornographic images can also constitute sexual harassment.
Some situations are borderline. What about when an employee's desktop background shows a woman in a state of undress? Or when a pornographic website appears unintentionally for a few seconds in the presence of a colleague?
Outside the office
Today, most employees have access to the Internet and email at home and away from the office. This ultra-availability can sometimes be detrimental to an employee's health. When the employee prepares files, responds to emails or does research outside the office, it will sometimes be overtime.
Employers must take steps to protect the health of their employees and prevent burnout situations. If the employer allows or requires an employee to be routinely available after hours, the employer risks liability.