Home|Audio Conferences|Workplace Privacy in a Digital Age

Workplace Privacy in a Digital Age: Foundational cases and recent developments

Thursday, October 3, 2019, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Keith Burkhardt

Employer Counsel
Sherrard Kuzz
Anne Gregory

Legal Counsel
Manitoba Nurses Union


Keri L. Bennett

Employer Counsel
Roper Greyell
Ann Cavoukian

Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence
Ryerson University
Kyle Rees

Union Counsel
O'Dea Earle


In recent years, rapid technological developments and the prevalence of social media have blurred the boundary between public and private data and communications. As technology continues to evolve, workplace parties are regularly encountering new challenges in maintaining the delicate balance between employers' legitimate management rights and employees' reasonable expectation of privacy regarding their electronic communications and personal information. In this session, experts will discuss issues related to privacy and the use of technology in the workplace, including the following:

  • The right to privacy: To what extent do employees have a right to privacy in the workplace? Is a balancing of interests required in all cases in which employer practices or policies affect employee privacy rights? Do employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to personal data stored on workplace electronic devices? Will personal information stored on smartphones, laptops, or other devices that employees are expected to take home attract greater protection than information stored on computers that do not leave the workplace? How might the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling in R. v. Jarvis affect employees' reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace?
  • Surveillance and monitoring: What do the latest cases say about employers' use of video surveillance and other technologies to monitor and manage their employees and premises? What balance do arbitrators and privacy commissioners strike between an employer's right to manage and control the workplace and employees' privacy interests? Are employers entitled to monitor an employee's computer and Internet use in the workplace? Does an employer require "probable cause" (such as a decline in productivity) before it can monitor or audit an employee's computer use?
  • Social media and personal electronic communications: Do employees have a right to privacy with respect to the content of their personal Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, web pages, blogs, e-mails, or text messages? Can an employer monitor employees' social media accounts to ensure they are not making statements or engaging in activities that would harm the employer's reputation? Does an employer's tracking of employees' social media use amount to the collection of personal information protected by privacy legislation?
  • Workplace policies: Can an employer diminish or erase an employee's expectation of privacy through a workplace policy on acceptable computer or Internet use? Is it permissible for an employer to ban all personal use of employer-issued technology? What are examples of workplace policies for acceptable computer, Internet, and e-mail use? Can workplace policies assist employers in safeguarding against privacy breaches?
  • Current trends: What privacy and human rights issues are raised by increased employer use of analytics? Can employers legally use technology to collect biometric information, such as heart rate, to identify how employees respond to stress or to offer discounted insurance premiums? What rules apply to employer use of global positioning systems (GPSs), radio-frequency identification (RFID), and other technologies that monitor employee movement (or movement of equipment) to track productivity? Can employers access data generated by wearable fitness devices that they distribute to employees as part of high-tech wellness programs?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $260. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $160.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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