Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Employers Hopeful that Supreme Court Ruling Sets Precedent for Workplace Strip Searches

"Access to employees' Facebook accounts is not enough to protect business assets from potential threats and poor performers." -- 2012 GOP presidential candidate and entrepreneur F. Chester Greene

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- Employers have been ordering workers, prospective and existing, to hand over their Facebook passwords as part of the background screening process, a move they claim is vital to protecting their enterprises and thus commerce in America. Not since people wrote checks for their purchases at RadioShack have they been forced to divulge as much personal information. The situation has degenerated to such an extent that Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) felt compelled last week to propose an amendment to the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012, demanding that employers be denied access to their employees' social media accounts. A day later, however, conservatives who decry big government intervention in our personal lives struck down the measure along party lines. Asking a federal agency to impose more regulations on businesses and the private citizens who run them, said opponents of Perlmutter's proposal, was another socialist ploy to keep the government's hooks in personal affairs. On Monday, conservatives scored another victory against government intrusion when the Supreme Court upheld strip searches of jail inmates, even those arrested for minor traffic offenses. Employers across the country are hoping the high court's decision will set a new precedent to pave the way for mandatory strip searches in the workplace.

The court's four liberals dissented, attempting to portray the searches as harmful, humiliating and degrading, especially when no reason to suspect the presence of contraband exists. As an example, they asked why a person should be cavity searched for trivial offenses such as driving with a noisy muffler, jaywalking, littering, appropriating political campaign contributions for personal use, outing CIA agents, or invading sovereign nations that did not attack the United States.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the conservative majority opinion, concluded that jail search procedures were necessary to the needs of the institution. To support his argument, he referenced the testimony of jailers in Beverly Hills, Calif., who said that without conducting intensive hourly strip searches of Lindsay Lohan, she may have smuggled in drugs. Not only would that have compromised control of the inmate population, Lohan may never have been able to kick the habit. The troubled actress is now free and rehabilitated.

Local businessman and 2012 White House hopeful F. Chester Greene enthusiastically agreed with the Supreme Court decision and said he hopes to see it expand to private enterprise.

"If you're driving with an expired license, you've broken the law," Greene said. "You're a criminal. And once you've decided to commit the crime, you've checked your rights at the door. That's what prison is, the denial of your freedoms as punishment for threat to society. If it were up to me, you'd be dragged to the curb and shot in head. That's called standing your ground. But because America's might comes from its economy, businesses also need the same latitude to protect their interests."

According to Greene, employees commit more offenses in the course of a typical workday than most career thieves.

"They steal every day," Greene said. "Every time they take a break from their duties to read the news, get a cup of coffee, use the bathroom or call HR, they've stolen from me. I'm paying them for that time. And if they call out sick, I have no way of knowing whether they were ill or just hungover from a night of partying. If I had access to their Facebooks [sic], I'd know for sure."

Greene admitted that he considered establishing a corporate Facebook account for his employees, but realized that being their "friend" sent the wrong message: "I'm their boss, not their buddy. But even then, access to employees' Facebook accounts is not enough to protect business assets from potential threats and poor performers."

Greene owns San Narciso County's most successful modeling agency, and attendance is imperative. "If the ladies don't show up for their shoots, I'm out thousands of dollars," he explained. "But they've always got an excuse, like 'I've got cramps' or 'I'm bloated today' or 'my boyfriend beat me again.' If I could cavity search them whenever suspicions arose -- which is pretty often -- I'd be able to get to the truth a lot faster and more efficiently."

Other business owners in the county stand by Greene. In fact, the issue of security has become such a hot button that Catholic priests in the area have also expressed a pressing need to legally conduct mandatory strip searches of church workers, such as altar boys, to protect Church property and assets. Greene is organizing a group to lobby for the cause.