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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,132

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    I never thought I'd be saying this when I got up this morning, but at least for the most part, Chuckie boy is right. It would have been better if the employer had written the policy first, and I don't think there's any question that unemployment would be easier if the OP had waited to be fired. Nor do I think there's any question that confiscating anything but the phone is right out of line.

    I still maintain that, while maybe a stupid policy (there are better ways to handle it even if this is an industry where cell phones can/should not be on the floor) the employer may require that the phones be held in the place of his choosing and that, while the employees who disagree with that place can/should leave the phone in their cars or at home, they do not have a right under the law to violate the policy if they opt not to (leave them home or in the car). I also maintain that, while I do not deny the possibility that in this case the employer may have crossed the line with the confiscation, if the OP got all his property back it's probably not worth trying to take any action about it.

    Cell phones are a relatively recent invention. Employees for many years managed to keep track of their kids and get emergency messages by means of other methods. Those other methods all still exist.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,789

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    The only real question the op asked was in the title: can my employer legally take my phone from my desk


    in some cases an employer could legally do so but in general, no, they can’t


    but


    the bigger question is: can the op do anything about it? Given the fact the op got their property back and there was no intent to permanently deprive the op of their property, the police aren’t going to care. While this might allow the op to be able to receive unemployment benefits, or maybe not, other than that, it’s a non issue. Nobody else will care and there is no recourse for the op.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    1,142

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    In many many cases, unemployment insurance is your only realistic option, the only place where any of the ramifications of the situation will be considered. I very rarely in many years of working with employment situations saw justice done as far as lawsuits, EEOC cases, etc. and it always was a long long time after the situations happened. Most people need to get on with their lives, have no time or disposable resources to fight through something, even if they did have a case. And as I have always said, most people until they have something happen directly to THEM just assume we have a whole lot more rights and protections on the job than we do. Wake up folks.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,526

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting jk
    View Post
    There are many places of employment where cell phones are not allowed.

    There are a variety of valid reasons cellphones are not permitted on job sites.

    People are welcome to leave them in their cars or at home or find another employer if they want to have their phone with them while at work.
    What is not allowed is the use of cellphones. Not the possession of cellphones.

    Where I work cellphones are not allowed to be used for anything while on duty. That means that while you are working, you cannot use your cell phone. But workers get two 15 minute breaks and a lunch break where they can use the phone. I think the break schedule is in keeping with state and federal law.

    To confiscate the phones for the entire work day prohibits their use when the employees are on break or at lunch. That is their time.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    3,349

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    What is not allowed is the use of cellphones. Not the possession of cellphones.

    Where I work cellphones are not allowed to be used for anything while on duty. That means that while you are working, you cannot use your cell phone. But workers get two 15 minute breaks and a lunch break where they can use the phone. I think the break schedule is in keeping with state and federal law.

    To confiscate the phones for the entire work day prohibits their use when the employees are on break or at lunch. That is their time.
    I can think of three not small employers that don't allow cell phones on their property.

    Just because you have a break at work doesn't mean you get to bring anything thing you might want to play with to work with you.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,526

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Name the employers. I can have anything in my pocket I want when at work. It's the use of it that causes a violation of policy.

    If an employee leaves the building during a break or lunch, the employer has nothing to say about what the employee does during break or lunch.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,789

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    What is not allowed is the use of cellphones. Not the possession of cellphones.

    Where I work cellphones are not allowed to be used for anything while on duty. That means that while you are working, you cannot use your cell phone. But workers get two 15 minute breaks and a lunch break where they can use the phone. I think the break schedule is in keeping with state and federal law.

    To confiscate the phones for the entire work day prohibits their use when the employees are on break or at lunch. That is their time.
    that would be incorrect Budwad. Until recently the cba i work under forbid all personal cellphones from being on the jobsite. We did change it but it was in 6 years of contract language.

    There are manufactures that forbid cellphones due to the fear of trade secrets being stolen. There are businesses where classified material is present and cellphones are not allowed at all.

    While the majority of employers do simply prohibit the use while on company time, there are employers that forbid cell phones on site entirely.


    As an aside;

    there are no lunch or break requirements for almost all jobs per federal law. If I recall correctly there are no legally mandated breaks in about half the states. There are no lunch breaks in quite a few states. (I don’t recall the number offhand)

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,463

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting budwad
    View Post
    Name the employers. I can have anything in my pocket I want when at work. It's the use of it that causes a violation of policy.
    That depends on the policy of the employer, doesn't it? If the employer policy is that you cannot have the cell phone on the premises at all then the employee needs to leave that phone outside the business premises. There is nothing illegal about an employer having that kind of policy. You say that you can have anything in your pocket at work and it is only the use of the item that is a problem. Would you say the same thing if the item was a firearm? I know of several employers that ban bringing firearms on the premises, and it is perfectly legal for them to do so. The cell phone is no different.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    168

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting Taxing Matters
    View Post
    That depends on the policy of the employer, doesn't it? If the employer policy is that you cannot have the cell phone on the premises at all then the employee needs to leave that phone outside the business premises. There is nothing illegal about an employer having that kind of policy. You say that you can have anything in your pocket at work and it is only the use of the item that is a problem. Would you say the same thing if the item was a firearm? I know of several employers that ban bringing firearms on the premises, and it is perfectly legal for them to do so. The cell phone is no different.
    A cellphone is very different than a handgun in the workplace. A cellphone does not require a conceal carry permit, a training course to use it, they are not generally banned by insurance companies and they do not kill people.

    Not a very good comparison.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,463

    Default Re: Can My Employer Legally Take My Personal Property from My Desk

    Quote Quoting Chuck77
    View Post
    A cellphone is very different than a handgun in the workplace. A cellphone does not require a conceal carry permit, a training course to use it, they are not generally banned by insurance companies and they do not kill people.

    Not a very good comparison.
    But the law in this regard makes no difference between the employer banning a cell phone or banning a gun on the premises. I agree with you that there are far more compelling reasons to ban bringing a gun into the work place than a cell phone, but so far as the law is concerned, the employer may ban the employee bringing almost anything onto the business premises, whether a cell phone, a firearm, or whatever. My comment about the guns was simply to challenge budwad's statement that the employee may have anything he or she wants in his/her pocket so long as it isn't used. I think clearly that is not the case.

    This is not to say that the employer has a right to confiscate the item. In most cases the employer may not do that. What the employer may do is tell the employee that if the employee refuses to go along with the program the employee will be fired.

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