nevada Archives - Morris Law Center

6 Things to Know About Employee Privacy in The Workplace

Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Louis Brandeis, called the right to privacy, “the right to be left alone.” Privacy can also be defined as, “the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.” Many of us thoroughly enjoy our privacy at home. In fact, we usually expect it. However, at work, you won’t get to enjoy that level of privacy. There are six areas of privacy that we want to discuss.

1. WORK COMPUTERS

An employer owned computer is most commonly known to have little privacy attached to it for the employee. Your employer can monitor all activity on your computer including internet activity and email. There is even software available to monitor and log every keystroke you make, and how long you are idle at your workstation. Everything you do on your computer can be monitored by your employer to protect its business interests and thus there is no expectation of privacy. One thing an employer cannot monitor and should remain private to you is third-party personal email accessed from your work computer. It may be against company policy to view personal emails at work; however, your employer is not allowed to monitor your personal email account.

2. TELEPHONE

Your desk telephone can also be monitored. Employers can listen in on all phone calls made and received by their employees. Some states require notification that calls are being recorded to both employees and callers.  In Nevada, state law requires that all parties on the line consent to being recorded during a phone call. The only exception to monitoring phone calls is on personal calls. It is usually understood that when an employer realizes that a phone call is personal, they must stop listening. However, this can be circumvented by telling employees that personal phone calls from work phones are not allowed. Having this policy means the employee risks their personal call being listened to.

3. MOBILE DEVICES

In today’s day and age, mobile devices are widely used in the workplace. If a smartphone or tablet is provided to you by your employer, an employer is usually free to monitor your text messages, email, internet activity, phone calls, photos, videos, and apps used. This can be done by installing monitoring apps that will secretly record all this information. Be careful of using a work phone for any personal business that you would rather an employer not know about.

4. VIDEO SURVEILLANCE

According to PrivacyRights.org, “Federal law does not prevent video monitoring even when the employee does not know or consent to being monitored.” This means that video surveillance can be in the workplace to monitor employees, maintain security, and protect assets. Some states have more restrictions on video surveillance of employees, however in general your employer is free to do so.

5. U.S. MAIL

One area of workplace privacy that is not often thought about is the mail. If you have mail sent to your place of employment, once it is delivered, you employer is free to open the mail without violating any laws prohibiting this practice. If you are concerned with your mail remaining private, it might be better to have anything personal sent to your home instead of the office.

6. SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media has become a large part of society, and the information you post online is becoming increasingly difficult to keep private. Many companies have some kind of social media policy limiting employees on what can be posted online regarding their work. Public posts about your job is generally not considered to be private, and if the post has the potential to be damaging to the company in some way, the employee can be disciplined based on the employer’s policy.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of privacy to be had at work apart from your personal belongings, and certain places such as restrooms and locker rooms. It’s unlikely that an employer will be found to have violated an employee’s privacy while that employee is on the clock at work, but it does happen. There have been cases decided where an employer has violated an employee’s privacy, but those are generally based on specific facts to the cases. If you think your privacy has been violated, contact an employment attorney for more information.

And finally, as we always say, “If you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.” Contact us before anything is set in stone. We love answering questions!

What You Should Know About Seller’s Disclosures in Nevada

Are you selling a house in Nevada? Are you buying a house in Nevada? Did you already buy a house in Nevada, and since discovered something that is wrong with the house? In any of these cases, you will need to know the requirements of NRS § 113.100 in regard to the seller’s disclosures. Below is an overview of the disclosure requirements, and what happens when something doesn’t get disclosed correctly.

Nevada’s Required Disclosures

In most residential property sales in Nevada, state law mandates the seller make disclosures about conditions on the property. See NRS § 113.130. These disclosures cover electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing and sewer systems, and anything else on the property that affects use or value. See NRS § 113.120. This process requires the seller to disclose any defect, which is defined in the statute as “a condition that materially affects the value or use of residential property in an adverse manner.”

What Needs to be Disclosed?

A seller is only required to disclose defects that they are aware of. In fact, the law makes clear that the seller is not required to disclose a defect of which they are not aware. NRS § 113.140. Additionally, the topics of disclosure are in a proscribed form that is adopted by the Nevada Real Estate Division, so you won’t be left trying to figure out the potential home or property features you need to address in the disclosures when selling your home.

Sellers can also rely on information that was given to them from government officials and experts like engineers, contractors, surveyors and inspectors. NRS § 113.150(5). This limits the ability of a buyer to claim damages from a known but undisclosed defect. So, a seller who is concerned about a potential defect is encouraged to consult with an appropriate expert to determine if there is a defect present before completing disclosures.

Sellers do not need to disclose defects that have been repaired. See Nelson v. Heer, 123 Nev. 217, 163 P.3d 420 (2007). For example, if a home had water damage, but the seller had it all repaired before making disclosures, it no longer needs to be disclosed.

Failure to Disclose

So, what happens if a seller fails to disclose a defect? The big risk is NRS § 113.150’s treble damages clause. Treble damages is a legal term for triple damages. The law allows a home purchaser who is saddled with a defect that the seller knew of, but did not disclose, to seek three times the cost of repair or replacement. This is a very big incentive for sellers to disclose known defects, because the consequences are steep. The purchaser can also seek court costs and attorney’s fees, making it even more crucial for sellers to make adequate disclosures. However, the treble damages, costs, and attorney’s fees are something the buyer can waive in a signed, notarized document.

What Real Estate Agents Should Know

Sellers’ real estate agents should be aware that they also have duties to disclose known defects, but are not in the precise situation that the seller is in. Licensed real estate agents are required to disclose to all parties “any material and relevant facts, data, or information which the licensee knows, or which by the exercise of reasonable care and diligence should have known, relating to the property which is the subject of the transaction.” NRS § 645.252. Generally, real estate agents are not liable for a misrepresentation of their client, but they can become liable if they knew the client made a misrepresentation, and the agent failed to inform the other party. NRS § 645.259. So, if a real estate agent knows of a defect and that her client failed to disclose it, she will need to disclose it to the buyer.

The good news for real estate agents is that even if they are liable for a failure to disclose, the treble damages clause does not apply, and the buyer’s recovery against an agent is limited to the decreased value of the property and damages resulting as a consequence of the nondisclosure. See Davis v. Beling, 128 Nev. 301, 278 P.3d 502 (2012)..  A successful plaintiff can recover the diminution in value as well as consequential damages from the agent. Id.

Conclusion

Real property transactions can be difficult and complicated, and seller’s disclosures are just one piece of the puzzle. Sellers and buyers should make use of the resources available through experts like engineers and inspectors, real estate agents, and even lawyers to ensure a smooth transaction. As always, if you think you might need an attorney, you probably do.

Can a Court Judgment be Recorded Against Real Property?

The short answer is “yes.” Not only can you record a judgment against real property, but you will often want to. Obtaining a judgment lien against real property can be a good way to ensure payment of a judgment debt. A lien on the property makes it more difficult for a judgment debtor to transfer an interest in the property and gives the judgment creditor (the person who won the judgment) the ability to take further steps, including foreclosure on the property.

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