East Aurora, NY asked in Contracts, Employment Law and Civil Rights for Colorado

Q: Integrity interview phone permission

I live in New York and was in an interview in Colorado for police department. During the integrity interview they asked if I would be okay with them looking through my phone and I said I don't think it's relevant and said no and they said they're sorry I failed the interview I was wondering if it was legal to do this

2 Lawyer Answers
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Tarrytown, NY
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: You should ask a Colorado attorney that question. Have you traveled to Canada lately? Customs can go through anything, everything, whatever they want. They can read all your correspondence. If customs agents can do that don't you think police will do that even if you were already an officer, already on the job, and using your own private phone? For example, you may have sent a text while driving, a civilian saw you texting at, for example 3:15 PM and called your supervisor, and now your commanding officer wants to see your phone to determine whether you were texting and driving. If you deny texting and driving hopefully you can identify a text stop where you pulled over to send that 3:15 PM text on your phone. And the GPS device in your car better confirm that as well.

In New York, employers load tracking devices on phones (even ones owned by employees), they have software which wipes phones clean almost instantly if they decide to fire an employee, they track internet usage, etc... and there are few, if any laws, to prevent employers from doing that as long as they do it to everyone. Equal treatment. I am not familiar with any NY laws which prohibit employers from doing any of this stuff. Are you? A PC was fired a few weeks ago because he refused to allow his employer to track his phone 24/7 and his employer said so long.

Police are your extended family. Extended family take liberties. If you don't want to join the fam you might have to look for another career. Colorado is certainly not NY and working law enforcement will have you testifying where lots of personal stuff may be dug up. Prior issues with pretty much anything. They were testing you. You needed to do exactly as they requested. When border patrol ordered me out of my car last weekend and told me to pop the trunk what do you think I said? It wasn't "I'm a lawyer, practicing for 27 years, and don't have to do whatever you want me to do." If I had said that what do you think would have happened?

Barry Eran Janay
Barry Eran Janay
Answered
  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • New York, NY

A: You don't have a right to be employed, they make the integrity evaluation as a condition of employment and that was a part of the evaluation. I am unaware of any laws that forbid employers from searching phones prior to employment as a condition of employment, but I am only licensed in NY and NJ for now.

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