Workplace Searches Californians Can Not Stop
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Workplace Searches Californians Can Not Stop

Keeping property in a drawer at work, or stored in a closet, does not mean a worker has given up their rights. Californians have privacy rights. Workers can refuse to agree to an unreasonable search by an employer. But, do not stay safe from all searches that can not find any thing that tells an employer their worker is guilty of wrongdoing.

A worker's things kept at the wokrplace cannot be searched at any moment but employers do not need consent to search their employee's property for a good reason. Productivity might not be enough to keep the employer's trust when they find out company property is missing.

There are no guarantees an employee who has never been a troublemaker will not get searched.

Not Kept Separate

Employers pay attention to the things kept at their workplace. No troubles can get in the way of productive work. Nothing is safe from searches when kept in the same place as work property. A wallet in the office desk drawer can be searched for illegal drugs. A bag with a soda bottle can be searched for alcohol. Typically, no warrant or probable cause is needed. But, in circumstances the search is unreasonable, a worker's privacy rights might be violated.

The California Check Against Searches

Californians can count on having privacy rights employers can not violate by doing an unneeded search. California gave its citizens employed at private businesses the same privacy rights the U. S. Supreme Court gave to public employees by guaranteeing they have the protection of the Fourth Amendment search and seizure clause that prevents unreasonable searches of property. If a California employee experiences that their reasonable expectation of privacy did not prove true at their workplace, there might be a clear cut privacy invasion.

Employers do need a justifiable reason chosen to take care of the business and the work done by employees. A circumstance they did not make an agreement on with any employees. For example, a recenly bought load of tools is missing and might have been stolen. The suspicion the tools can be found in a closet big enough to store the tools that a worker uses everyday to store their own tools is reasonable.

Not on the Same Ground, Now Suspect

Some employers might find random searches useful to prevent troubles, but the searches are not legal. Waiting until there is a particular business reason to do a limited search of identified workers prevents an invasion of privacy.

Open to Search Hazards

Employers that do hit and miss investigations are not afraid to search the things kept by even neat and tidy employees. Californians' privacy rights are protected to make the choice to give respect to innocent employees part of the decision to take care of property kept at the workplace. Employers need to confirm their first suspicions.


Workplace Fairness, Your Rights: Workplace Searches, online February 24, 2012.

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