Employee privacy is a very controversial topic. The first issue at hand is whether or not the employer in Case 9. 3 has the right to invade her employees’ privacy. It can be argued that employers don’t have the right to invade their employees’ privacy. It is one thing for an employer to monitor their employees in the workplace to make sure they are not doing something that will affect the company’s profits, but it is a much more egregious issue for the employer to go beyond his or her interest to invade his or her employees’ privacy when they are not working.
The Washington State Constitution Article I, Section 7 states that “no person shall be disturbed in his private affairs. ” Essentially, privacy is widely acknowledged to be a fundamental right of every person. In Case 9. 3, Jean Fanuchi, the manager of the jewelry department, resorts to invading her employees’ privacy in order to catch the culprit who is responsible for her deflating profit in the jewelry department. Fanuchi sets up a video camera to catch the culprit, but her interest in protecting the department store are highly outweighed by the employees’ privacy interest.
The manager deliberately invades her employees’ privacy by installing microphones in the restroom, stockroom, and employee lounge. The microphones are an invasion of privacy because Fanuchi’s actions begin to cross the line that constitutes personal privacy, and this becomes unfairly prejudicial to the employee when they are caught saying something that inculpates themselves. For example, the book states on page 347, “employees want to control intimate or personal information about ourselves and not permit it to be freely available to everyone. It can be inferred that if the employees knew that the microphone was there they would not have divulged their personal information about their selling marijuana and perhaps hard drugs, plans for future or ongoing employment, and food stamp fraudulences. As stated on pg. 12, “An action can be illegal but morally right, or an action that is legal can be morally wrong, but in this case it is illegal and morally wrong. Fanuchi’s actions were illegal because they violated RCW 9. 73. 30, which states that it is unlawful for any individual to intercept, record, or divulge private communication by use of any electronic devise unless they have express consent of all parties. RCW 9. 73. 030. Furthermore, on page 356 of the text book there is a case about “two male employees of Boston Sheraton Hotel who were secretly videotaped changing clothes in the locker room during a hunt for a drug dealer; they weren’t suspects, just bystanders. ” Similarly, in the present case, the employee’s privacy was invaded when the employer discovered, by microphone, that the employee was selling drugs.
Our privacy would have been wrongfully invaded if we were Fanuchi’s employees. As stated on page 348, “we seek to preserve and protect a sphere in which we can choose to think and act for ourselves, free from the illegitimate influence of our employers and other,” and if we can’t do that in the break room then where would we be able to do it? The book states on page 377, “the microphones contributed nothing to the apprehension of the thief. ” The only purpose that the microphones held was to invade all of the employees’ privacy.
If Fanuchi would have obtained consent from the employees, this would not be an issue of the invasion of privacy. The employees in Case 9. 3 would have had control and a choice as to what to say or not to say depending on what they wanted their employer to hear. The written consent would have avoided the employees’ constitutional right to privacy, and the culprit would still have been caught by the video cameras. The second issue at hand is whether or not the employer in Case 9. acted immorally by setting up the microphones in the break room. The issue of immorality is a difficult one. In the referenced case there are many directions which one could use to approach the subject. It can be argued that Fanuchi did in fact act immorally based on the utilitarian theory, libertarian theory, and under egoism. First, John Stewart Mill focused his view of utilitarianism on his belief that justice concerns certain rules or rights that are vitally important for all human well-being.
The utilitarian view further illustrates that the maximization of happiness ultimately determines what is just and unjust. That being said, many employees in Case 9. 3 were spied on. Some of them verbally said things that would have been unknown to their employers had the microphone not been secretly placed without the employees knowledge. This shows a violation of the rights of the identified individuals. Therefore, when Fanuchi installed the microphones she caused many people unhappiness in a variety of ways.
This unhappiness would outweigh the happiness of Fanuchi and the business. Participation of the workers in the decision of whether to have the microphones installed or to discuss the problem at hand would have allowed for Fanuchi to have open dialogue with her employees to discuss the situation as well as get suggestions from the employees on how to handle the situation. By having open dialogue Fanuchi could have protected her business, ensured that they were still employed and continued to contribute to the overall economic welfare of the community.
Futher Fanuchi could build the shop and breakdown any hostilities that may have existed. Had Fanuchi involved her workers in her decision, she may have built up the collaboration in her workplace, and would have ultimately made everyone happier and resolved the issue at hand. In addition, Fanuchi would have also encouraged a more productive process and this, in essence, would have increased productivity of all employees and profit for the jewelry department all while creating an atmosphere that is built on a collaborative work relationship..
Secondly, under the libertarian theory, Nozick would say that people have certain basic moral rights or Lockean rights. The employees of the store should be able to live their lives without interference from others. Also, the employees are not obligated to do anything positive or beneficial for Fanuchi. Moreover, employees are entitled to do as they see fit in their own lives as long as they do not violate other people’s rights.
The action that Fanuchi takes is a capitalist act and Nozick would say that the product of such an act interferes with the employees’ economic justice, and it fails to respect people’s liberties. By Fanuchi installing the microphones the other business that the employees were involved in would further be restricted. If Fanuchi were a good boss her effectiveness would be rewarded for skill, diligence and successful performance, and not by providing a restrictive and coercive environment where people’s rights are infringed.
While Fanuchi has the right to operate her business any way she wants and she could take the stand that if employees don’t like it they could go work elsewhere Fanuchi would likely lose good and bad employees because of the morality of her actions. If employees quit and she had to rehire and train new employees she would not only have the expense of the microphones but then posting for new employees, hiring and training new employees which inthe long run would not be an economically sound business decision for Fanuchi and her company.
Lastly, Fanuchi clearly is acted within the egoist theory when she believed that her act was morally right. Fanuchi made a decision that best promoted the company’s interests. The installation of the cameras will not encourage her employees to come to her in the future with questions or concerns. On the contrary, employees’ are going to be hesitant to approach Fanuchi because they no longer trust her as an employer. Further, her decision will not create a trusting working environment throughout the department.
While Fanuchi might say that her decision will promote her self-interests, it is actually a selfish act that is blatantly wrong. Her decision in turn will not be helpful to her business in the long run. Each of the aforementioned theories clearly indicates why Fanuchi’s actions can be seen as immoral and inappropriate for both the long term success of her company and the relationship between her employees, which will be necessary in the future to maintain her business and maintain customer satisfaction.