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Ethics and Privacy Issues in a Workplace Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Sep 1st, 2021

Privacy is something that is being vanished nowadays because of modern technological progression. Too many persons have access to other individuals’ information. In the present time’s technologically advancing world of information, organizations are having a never-ending encounter with their employees on how much privacy employees have and how much of that privacy the employers should have access to. (Mcevoy, 2002)

At Gap Inc., the privacy invasion begins before a possible employee starts his or her first day of work. The individual must go through a series of tests and examinations to prove themselves worthy of working for Gap Inc. Such tests include physical exams and drug screenings. Although this is a form of privacy invasion, it is also a form of testing that must be done. This evaluates how much of a health risk an individual is to Gap Inc. If the individual is a health risk, then it is not in Gap Inc.’s best interest to hire that individual.

Looking at potential employees’ background information can be seen as another form of privacy invasion. The thought of having someone look into an individual’s past and judging him or her by it can seem to assault the individual. However, it is a good way for the employer to verify that all the information provided by the applying individual is accurate. It also gives the employer ease of mind to know the individual’s qualifications. The employer may have too many applicants and be able to hire only a few. Such information could provide the applying individual the boost that he or she needs. It is a form of privacy, but one that is needed.

Even a lot of managers working at Gap Inc. believe that all these pre-employment exams and screenings are a form of privacy invasion. On the other hand, in accepting to take these exams, the individuals are also accepting to divulge any required personal information. They are the ones putting themselves in that position; therefore, many may see it as not being an invasion of privacy. It is information that the individual provided. As for the background check, the individuals are also stating that the information on the paper is true and that the employer is allowed to verify such information. A private place is no longer private if the individual grants access to such a place. Such is the application process for certain employments.

Once an individual is employed, the employer acquires more power to invade the employee’s privacy. The example given is the monitoring of computers. Computer activity monitors are able to count how many keystrokes the employee makes, how much time the individual spends off the computer, and how much Gap Inc. time the individual is spending surfing through websites that are non-work related. (Mcevoy, 2002)

All these tests and screenings are seen as a privacy invasion. Though, the employees are using Gap Inc. computers and internet connection lines. The employers should have the right, some consider, to observe the computers and seeing how they are being used. The employer is not paying the person to surf the internet, nor is the employer paying the person to type letters for non-work-related reasons.

There is a mission that needs to get accomplished, and accomplishing it is what the employee is getting paid for. When a person lets another use his or her phone, then the first person has non-verbal consent to look at the number called when the statement arrives. It is, after all, the first person that is paying for the phone service. The second individual is also accepting and expecting that the number is going to be seen by the first individual. If not, the second individual should have used another phone or purchased a phone. (Mishra, 1998)

Urinalyses and locker inspections are another form of privacy invasion that is often used in Gap Inc. workplaces. However, it is something that has to get done in order to keep Gap Inc.’s name clean and the order in the Gap Inc. in order. The employees are using the lockers provided by the employers. These lockers are the property of Gap Inc., and if Gap Inc. wants to verify that nothing illegal is being kept, then Gap Inc. has the right to do so. The employees should know better than to bring anything illegal and to store it in the workplace. The same thing goes for urinalyses. They are conducted to make sure that Gap Inc. does not have any possible risk-labeled individuals.

Inspections such as urinalyses and locker inspections are a form of privacy invasion. However, they are necessary for Gap Inc.’s best interest. These inspections can be less humiliating if the employer conducts them in a proficient manner. One way would be to let the employees know that an inspection is going to happen. This gives the possible risks a chance to prepare themselves. This way, the employees do not have a way to keep track. This is an example of interval reinforcement. It keeps them guessing, which promotes a lesser chance of using drugs or storing illegal items in the work center. (Kim, 2006)

Employee and employer relationships are often in great tension because of privacy invasion from the employers. However, the individual must understand that if he or she puts himself in the position, then they must abide by certain rules and regulations. If not, the individual is free to leave and find another place. They must keep in mind, though, that the next job interview, or position, will most likely have the same format on doing such things.


Kim, E. K. (2006). The New Electronic Discovery Rules: A Place for Employee Privacy? Yale Law Journal, 115(6), 1481+.

Mcevoy, S. A. (2002). E-Mail and Internet Monitoring and the Workplace: Do Employees Have a Right to Privacy? Communications and the Law, 24(2), 69+.

Mishra, J. M., & Crampton, S. M. (1998). Employee Monitoring: Privacy in the Workplace? SAM Advanced Management Journal, 63(3), 4+.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Ethics and Privacy Issues in a Workplace'. 1 September.

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