Privacy in Employment Law, Fifth Edition


This treatise is a dependable reference on the law of privacy in the workplace, as addressed fragmentally in state and federal constitutions, statutes, and court decisions.


Privacy in Employment Law offers clear guidance on the limits of employer authority in securing information about applicants and employees, disclosing such information, and controlling activities in the U.S. workplace. Its comprehensive coverage includes lists of state laws relevant to workplace privacy, including drug testing, access to personnel files, lie detection, electronic monitoring, and more, as well as selected foreign statutes and the European Union (EU) directive on privacy law. 

Representative topics examined in the Fifth Edition include:  

  • the confidentiality of medical records under the ADA, and of medical certifications under the FMLA;

  • how employee drug-testing policies are impacted by medical marijuana use and marijuana decriminalization;

  • the lawfulness of inquiry into applicant pay history;

  • acquisition and use of biometric data;

  • access to and use of employee social media; and

  • interception of electronic communications.

In addition, the Fifth Edition explores timely issues such as the lawfulness of requiring an employee to submit to psychiatric assessment; standing to contest a lack of procedural conformity to the Fair Credit Reporting Act; the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to an employee’s breach of fiduciary duties; a change in the National Labor Relations Board’s approach to the prohibition on an employer’s possession and use of cell recording; obesity as a category of employment protection; the impact of an employee’s refusal of employer orders on the grounds of conscientious objection; the retransmission of defamatory statements by electronic means; and more. 

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Part I. An Analysis of Privacy in the Employment Relationship

Medical Screening and Testing

  • Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Screening and Testing

  • Psychological Screening and Testing

  • Interviews and Background Investigation

  • Monitoring Employee Performance and Conduct

  • Control of Employees

Part II. Statutory and Regulatory References

  • Polygraphy and Lie Detection
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing

  • Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, or Lawful Products Outside the Workplace

  • Access to Personnel Records

  • Job Reference Immunity

  • Social Security Numbers

  • Electronic Monitoring and Surveillance

    Appendix (GDPR)

    Table of Cases



    Matthew W. Finkin is the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law at the University of Illinois, where he also holds appointments in the Center for Advanced Study and the School of Labor and Employment Relations.

    Published:  2018

    ISBN:  978-1-68267-534-2


    "The law of privacy in the workplace is governed by an often confusing array of statutory provisions and court decisions. This work provides a coherent overview of these disparate sources of law.”

    Kendall F. Svengalis

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