The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Private parts distract workers

By Shelly Williams/editor-in-chief

A week ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struggled to draw a line between what a company considers a private or public matter — personal texting on a work phone.

The case argued whether a California city violated a public employee’s rights by reading sexually explicit text messages on a device owned by the police department. A decision has not been made yet.

It seems a decision such as this should be simple.

If police officer Jeff Quon has the audacity to send “sext-messages” through a work phone and not expect a consequence, then maybe he should have had the same audacity to bring his own phone for those private matters or spoken up about the department’s policy to get clarification.

But there is a bigger issue at stake, and that’s whether or not the higher-ups of any company or organization have the right to check employees’ personal aspects of their lives on a business-owned electronic device.

If someone is about to hire you, they’re more likely to look at your Facebook to evaluate your professionalism these days than a few years ago. What makes phone calls or text-messages any different?

Not much.

“In a boundary-less environment when workers are toggling back and forth between work and personal use, they don’t realize their boss has the right to go back through their browser or their text-messaging trail,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, told CNN.com.

Six years before this case hit the Supreme Court, a panel of judges ruled Quon was protected from illegal searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. However, the protection seems to stop there. In a study done by the American Management Association, more than 28 percent of employers fired a worker for e-mail misuse in 2007, compared to 14 percent in 2001, CNN said.

Students about to graduate and enter the workforce need to be concerned about integrating work with personal matters. It could prevent them from doing the best job they can or even cause unemployment.

This court case could push some companies to rework their policies, legal experts said in the article.

It’s an obvious issue that should be an easy one to solve. If not, here’s a hint: bring your own phone to work and watch what Web sites you surf.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian