Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling favoring an Ontario, Ca., police chief who read messages on an offier’s work pager rejected a broad right of privacy for workers who send text messages on the job, says the Los Angeles Times. The court said supervisors may read through an employee’s communications if they suspect rules are being violated; in this case, the chief read the transcripts of sexually explicit text messages sent from the officer’s work pager.
The officer had won a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which said there was no need to snoop through his personal messages. The appellate court noted that a commander had told the officer he could use the pager for personal messages, so long as he paid the cost. The Supreme Court disagreed, saying the law tilts the balance in favor of the employer, not the employee. A public employee has at most “a limited privacy expectation” when using a text pager supplied by the police department, the justices said.