By the Numbers: Privacy in the Workplace; January 1999; Scientific American Magazine; by Doyle; 1 Page(s)
The U.S. Constitution gives substantial protection to privacy in the home but not where Americans make a living. A 1998 survey of 1,085 corporations conducted by the American Management Association shows that more than 40 percent engaged in some kind of intrusive employee monitoring. Such monitoring includes checking of e-mail, voice mail and telephone conversations; recording of computer keystrokes; and video recording of job performance. Random drug testing is done by 61 percent of those surveyed. Psychological testing, which often attempts to probe intimate thoughts and attitudes, is done by 15 percent of corporations. Genetic testing, which creates the potential for discrimination on a vast scale, is practiced by only 1 percent but, in the absence of a federal law preventing the practice, could become far more widespread if the cost continues to decline.
According to a 1996 survey by David F. Linowes and Ray C. Spencer of the University of Illinois, a quarter of 84 Fortune 500 companies surveyed released confidential employee information to government agencies without a subpoena, and 70 percent gave out the information to credit grantors. Paradoxically, about three fourths of companies barred employees from seeing supervisors' evaluations of their performance, and one fourth forbade them from seeing their own medical records.