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Privacy rights — Texas

Employees, even those who are suspected of fraud or theft, do not relinquish all privacy rights in the workplace. The employer’s desire to avoid company losses and expose fraudulent employee conduct may not necessarily justify an expansive search into the employee’s personal affairs and effects. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Although there is not a directly equivalent provision in the Texas Constitution, employees in Texas are protected by a common law right of privacy with regard to the following actions:

  • use of an individual’s name or likeness
  • publication of a private fact
  • intrusion into seclusion.

Accordingly, these recognized privacy rights must be considered whenever you consider searching what could be considered a “private” employee area. In such situations, an employee may claim that the employer violated a reasonable expectation of privacy. In many cases, whether or not an expectation of privacy is reasonable will depend on what the employer said or did not say to create the...

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