Supreme Court Backs Boss Who Read Employee Texts

Police chief has right to investigate on-the-job texting: justices
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Suggested by Disillusioned
Posted Jun 17, 2010 3:44 PM CDT
Be careful when texting at work.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

(Newser) – The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a police chief who read sexually explicit text messages on an officer's department-issued pager. In a 9-0 ruling, the court found that a police chief in Ontario, California, did not violate the 4th Amendment's ban against unreasonable searches. The chief been worried that his employees were wasting time on the job by using the text pagers for personal use. Because he read officer Jeff Quon's messages to satisfy an inquiry into work-related conduct, the court considers it a "reasonable" search, the LA Times reports.

"That the search did reveal intimate details of Quon's life does not make it unreasonable," wrote Justice Kennedy, who explicitly states that employers, including public agencies, may conduct searches of their employees for a "work-related purpose" or to investigate "work-related misconduct." Kennedy cautioned that the ruling was "narrow" and could not be used as a precedent for many of the privacy disputes that could come up involving electronic messaging.

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