Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Katherine Hoppe


The COVID-19 pandemic forced many not considered essential employees into their homes. Many employers worried about employee accountability, leveraged surveillance techniques to maximize employee performance and ensure productivity. These technologies include screen monitoring software, video recordings of employees within their homes, monitoring of social media, and typing efficiency. While employees continue to work outside of the office, private employers will increasingly monitor employees in spaces traditionally considered private—including the home. As private and public life spheres continue to overlap, privacy for workers may erode. What kinds of surveillance have employees experienced in their homes since the Covid-19 lockdown orders? Moreover, what existing protections do they have? I argue that new legal regimes are necessary to stop the threat of more invasive surveillance techniques. This article outlines the history of surveillance in the workplace and employees’ existing protections. Using a comparative perspective, I then examine the legal regulations available to protect employees’ privacy in other nations. I conclude that some of these laws may be imported into the U.S. context to ensure employee privacy and well-being.