A New York law taking effect May 7 requires employers to disclose electronic monitoring of their workers. This is similar to workplace monitoring laws already in effect in Connecticut since 1998 and Delaware since 2017. Federally, employers may spy on their employees as they perform work duties.
The New York law, which is an amendment to the state’s civil rights protections, only applies to employees hired on or after that date. However, it’s meant as a response to increased surveillance tech many employees have already confronted since they started working remotely during the pandemic. According to research by Top10VPN, surveillance software jumped 54% in the first half of 2020.
Now, employees must be notified that “any and all telephone conversations or transmissions, electronic mail or transmissions, or internet access or usage by an employee by any electronic device or system,” can be monitored “at any and all times by any lawful means,” according to the bill’s text.
But penalties are low, and legal experts told Bloomberg Law that it may be difficult for plaintiffs to use. The New York attorney general can seek $500, $1,000 and $3,000 for first, second and third offenses, but individual employees cannot enforce their rights in a court of law because the law doesn’t contain a private right of action.
Experts are watching to see if the law inspires similar legislation in other states, like California and Illinois.