RPJ Attorney Elizabeth Stork Quoted by Bloomberg Law on Employee Privacy and Safety as Offices Reopen

On July 21, RPJ Attorney Elizabeth Stork was featured in Bloomberg Law’s article entitled, “As Offices Reopen, State Laws Thread Worker Privacy and Safety.” The piece discusses how employers can prepare to welcome employees back to the office while navigating the many new state employment laws mobilized by the pandemic, and concludes that it remains a difficult situation for legislators, as they attempt to uphold both employee safety and privacy.

While employers may want employees to download location-tracking apps for contact-tracing purposes in order to slow the spread of Covid-19, many states have privacy measures in place with employee-tracking restrictions pre-dating the pandemic. Additionally, a new law took effect in Hawaii this month which  prohibits employers from requiring employees to download location-tracking apps onto their personal cellphones. However, employers are permitted to require that employees download location-tracking apps on company-owned cellphones. Elizabeth notes, “The privacy-focused policies are catching up to how much data is being collected today.” Addressing the collection of health data as a part of virus-control efforts, she continues, “There’s an interest in privacy, but there is also an interest in health and safety.”

In addition, many states are considering limiting or banning vaccine mandates. Florida, for example, has a new law that bars passport requirements issued by government agencies or businesses. However, workplace mandates are not restricted. Elizabeth notes that employers operating in states that have enacted some form of a vaccine passport ban should be aware that they should monitor workplace developments as “something to look out for.” Montana remains an outlier in terms of vaccination passport bans, as they have also blocked mandates for workplaces. Elizabeth said employers have to be nimble: “We always advise clients that employment law is an area of law that changes rapidly, and I think it’s been changing even more rapidly.”

To learn more, read the full article on Bloomberg Law here.