Under Georgia law, you may be permitted to monitor your employees to ensure they are working and not wasting company time. You may also be able to collect data from customers through your website. However, employees and consumers expect some degree of privacy. It is important to understand the limits of your surveillance and whether you will need to post a privacy statement on your website or in your employee handbook.
For an employee to prevail in a tort action for intrusion of seclusion, the employer or another employee must intrude intentionally. The intrusion must be highly upsetting to the employee and offensive to any reasonable person. However, if company policy is to monitor an inter-office email system and an employee is writing personal emails, the company is not intruding if it catches the person in the act.
Businesses also may be able to monitor employees outside of work if their work is sensitive and the company would be compromised if it were leaked. For instance, a worker creating a formula for a new vaccine may be monitored outside of the workplace.
Communicating something private about a person in a way that is offensive and unnecessary is an actionable claim for invasion of privacy. For instance, an employee who happens to see an email from another employee’s doctor and learns they are undergoing cancer treatment could face consequences for sharing this information with other employees.
False light occurs when someone maliciously communicates to others offensive or embarrassing information that places another person in an unfavorable light. For instance, using an employee’s photo in a company newsletter to illustrate an article on alcoholism could be considered false light.
Permission must be granted to use a person’s name or likeness, particularly in advertising. For example, the courts would not permit an advertising company to use a celebrity’s image to promote a hometown product just because the superstar hailed from that place.