Potential Whistleblowers Take Note of Employer Monitoring
If you’re working in an environment where you’ve suddenly become aware of illegal or unethical behavior, especially that which might qualify under a whistleblower case, you need to stop and think for a minute. It’s critical to consider all your future actions once you’ve uncovered something worth reporting, before you report anything. In many cases, employers have set up various monitoring systems – including computer tracking and/or video surveillance.
Aside from meeting with a skilled Florida qui tam (whistleblower) attorney, there are several things to remember if you’re planning on exposing fraudulent or illegal activities that constitute a loss against the government.
E-mails Aren’t Private
If you use a company computer, have a company email account, or connect on your own personal computer to a company VPN, your emails are likely not private. Companies keep an archive, and some companies conduct random searches in their mail archive when necessary. Do not use your company email, or even your personal email from a company computer or network, to communicate in connection with whistleblowing activities. Avoid keeping any information saved on company computers that could easily be traced back to you if an investigation ensues.
Some people recommend using a public computer, like at a library, to create a new email account that is not linked with your existing ones. You may want to invest in an encrypted USB drive, or even consider using a separate computer for anything related to potential whistleblower activities.
Working on a Company Server
If you connect to a company server, they can likely track every move you make and access every file you’ve accessed on the server. In many cases, companies have what’s known as “productivity monitoring software” installed on company computers. Even if you are a remote worker, advanced programs can track your location, productivity, etc. Some companies use keystroke tracers that can analyze productivity by taking screen shots every certain number of minutes when a file is open, search browsing history, emails, etc.
Watch Your Phone Usage Too
Company phones are not necessarily private either. Some companies have filters installed that can monitor calls or record calls for various reasons. Ever call a company’s customer service department and hear a recording that says, “your call may be monitored for quality assurance.” Don’t forget your mobile phone as well – if you connect to the company’s Wi-Fi using your own phone, it may not be completely secure either.
Can Employers Legally Monitor You?
Yes and no. There may be some situations that constitute invasion of privacy, but in many instances, companies are within their rights to monitor you, especially as it relates to the use of company assets. The Federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), notes any computer provided by the employer is their property, which allows them to monitor your access to some degree. And, most companies provide a policy regarding monitoring activities that all employees sign upon accepting employment.
Retaining a Qui Tam Attorney
There are laws that protect employees from unreasonable and unlawful monitoring, as well as protections in place for potential whistleblowers. If you are aware of potential government fraud, please contact our knowledgeable attorneys at McCabe Rabin, P.A. Our Florida team has years of experience in whistleblower cases, and know how to evaluate your claim, prepare proper pleadings, and handle the reporting of the matter to the respective government agencies and the Department of Justice. Contact our office at 561.659.7878 to schedule a confidential consultation.