The last several years have marked a seismic shift in workplace norms. First, while initially an emergent response to the Covid-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid work arrangements are undoubtedly here to stay, meaning that traditional in-person supervision of employees is no longer an option. Second, rapidly expanding and contracting market conditions have created the need for companies to make large-scale hiring and layoff decisions. Many employers have turned to evolving technologies to address these needs – the first through monitoring software and the second through the application of AI-directed decision-making. These trends raise serious concerns for executives and employees around privacy, discrimination, and the nature of work.
For years, employers in the private sector paid little attention to concerns about workplace privacy, as few laws prevented them from monitoring employees and their communications, whether electronic or otherwise. An employee's activities while using an employer's computer were largely unprotected by federal or state privacy laws.