Free Speech and Privacy at Work

When can an employee’s off-duty web postings or other activities be reasonably monitored and controlled by an employer in order to protect the business? This has been a recurring question since the rise of the public internet and especially of social media. This article does a nice job of reviewing the case law and dissecting the issues of privacy, free speech, and employer loyalty with regard to online postings, and notes that:

It is fair to say that although technology has changed the playing field, the principles with respect to off-duty conduct in Canada have not changed. As long as employees must remain subordinate and loyal to their employer, there are limits to what they can express, even on their own devices and even if they are off-duty.

While an employer can never completely control the online behaviour of its employees, it can manage the delicate balance between protecting the business and respecting the rights of employees to privacy and free speech by putting in place “a well-drafted and well-communicated policy which clearly identifies acceptable workplace practices and use of company equipment as well as personal equipment, both at work and off work.”

New Online Case Law Additions in Canada and the U.S.

The trend toward providing more free online access to court opinions got a massive boost recently in both Canada and the U.S. In Canada, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the copyright holder of the Ontario Reports, made available to CanLII the full historical collection of OR case reports (15,000 decisions published from 1931 to 2013), increasing CanLII’s database for Ontario courts by about 25%.

In the United States, the federal Judiciary and the Government Printing Office partnered through the GPO’s Federal Digital System, FDsys, to provide public access to more than 750,000 opinions, many dating back to 2004. In addition to PACER, this is another source to access court-related information. [via InfoDocket]