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Boss Repositions Employee's Computer Screen So She Can Spy On Her, And The Internet Responds

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Invasion of privacy. Call HR. Take no prisoners. You can't just decide everything is your business....


u/lowkeymeshhhh laid it out for us:

Boss is constantly moving my computer screen. Can she force me to sit in a particular way?!

A little bit of background information: My friend (M) and I are both fairly young (early/mid 20s F) but yet we work in a field that requires a good amount of experience (which we have! They did hire us in the first place). M was already working here for a year before I joined back in May.

Our boss, and owner of the company (O), was nice at first but then she started micromanaging every aspect of our jobs. M stated that O was not like this before I joined the company. First it started with O installing cameras in the office – we work upstairs while O's office is downstairs. O already had a camera upstairs but she installed several more in a particular place so she could directly watch M and I's desk. Once, O called me to scold at me for listening to youtube (everyone in the office does this, especially her own daughters, and everyone does it in front of her). But whatever, I understand at any office doing this is not generally accepted. I stopped using youtube (while everyone else is still using it).

A month or so ago, she came to give M and I some papers and then asked me in a casual way if the computer has to be like this. My desk has two computer screens, both angled slightly in, making a small V. I told her that I positioned my screen like this because the other way was hurting my neck. She said well it was never positioned like that before, and asked me to move my screen. Baffled, I moved it so the screen was straight so she could obviously see it from the cameras. I moved the screen back a few days later since it felt really uncomfortable for my neck.

Now I've been noticing that sometimes the screen is straight again. I know for sure it is her doing it and sooner or later she is going to confront me for moving it back. There is a history of the boss doing petty little things like this, this is just the latest and ongoing one. I have a ton of other instances I can think of where it feels like she is just in particular picking on me.

I legitimately feel discriminated against but I don't have time in my life to make the case plus I know it is really hard to prove this in court. I am in the process of finding a new job but I need advice till then. I just need to know what can I say when she confronts me for wanting to work comfortably. Are there any laws in Florida that I can reference?

TLDR: Boss has been treating me unfairly and constantly moving my screen is the latest thing. Told her the screen hurts my neck, but she keeps moving it back. Any laws I can reference when she confronts me?

Here was some of the citation of laws/advice she got.

One

The surveillance atmosphere of the place is the bigger problem. This place is toxic and will become moreso. The repositioning of your monitor is unimportant in the long run, except in that it is a harbinger of much more controlling stuff that is coming.

Look for another job and get out before they find a pretext to let you go.

BrokenPaw

Two

Everything about this screams toxic work environment. Going down the checklist.

-Boss micromanages her employees

-Boss installs cameras so she can watch her employees closer

-Boss has hired family members who get special privileges.

-Boss complains about your monitors facing a certain way, avoids specifying her reason as it's purely to monitor you closer

-Numerous other incidents that are just as petty

I'm glad your already looking for work, because this place sounds brutal. In terms of advice, I doubt there is anything she can do to force you to have your monitors facing a certain direction but I would be trying to lay low until I found another position.

Zazool

Three

Everyone is coming at you with helpful mature advice, but it might be fun to put up some polarized screen protectors. You might be able to trap her into admitting that she wants to see your screen at all times.

Or ask the Admin/secretary/supply orderer to get them for everyone and put on a show about the importance or data security, "protect the product and the customer blah blah..."

You might need the leverage of a new job lined up for this tp be a comfortable play though..

quack_in_the_box

Four

Any laws I can reference when she confronts me?

No. Basically employers can require whatever they want of you provided it doesn't fall within some very narrow boxes. The best you can probably do is try to find a way to set up your monitors that would satisfy everyone (or at least make you marginally less stressed).

But keep in mind that this place sounds pretty toxic and messed up, so I'd do your best to keep your head down and put your energy into finding a new place.

rmric0

Five

This is ridiculous. I work in IT for a small company. We bend over backwards to make sure users are comfortable without making accommodation requests. Ergonomic keyboards and mice, stand up desks, dimmed lighting above their desks, etc. The owner spares no expense to be sure that their employees are comfortable. This is how you keep employees, not by micromanaging them.

I'm the type to ask flat out, "What exactly is the problem here?" and make my case against it... in front of everyone. If you're not willing to do that, like everyone else has said, keep your head low and find another job. Good luck!

anotherGuldove

Six

In addition to finding a new job if she turns it then turn it back. Every time. If she confronts you then tell her as mentioned it causes you severe neck pain. I would also ask her very politely if there's a reason why she wants your monitor to be straight even though you've told her it causes you pain? Make her say it aloud. I'm curious.. are you a different race than your boss and coworkers?

browneyesandlashes

Seven

I mean, yeah the surveillance atmosphere is a problem.

To fix the specific issue of your neck, tell them that your neck is a problem, and if the cameras can't be moved, then perhaps they can install monitoring software so basically your computer sends them your screen, directly from the software, and regardless of which way it's positioned.

Monitoring the employees is not an issue that's specific to your company, and there are better solutions than the cameras. They should talk to an IT guy, even Geek Squad can probably help, about setting up the network to prevent non-work-related stuff like youtube, and logs of what apps the employees use, so that the cameras aren't necessary.

Otherwise, you can also say that you take pride in being a professional and working hard, and if there's anything your boss can suggest that would improve your productivity, you're open to her suggestions.

But yes, look for another job and just lay low until then. Neck pain, don't let it accumulate, though, talk about moving the cameras and/or software that can send them your screens, if they really feel the need.

mb34i

Eight

I agree with everyone else who suggested looking for a new job because this is a sign that your boss a toxic attitude that isn't conducive to a comfortable work environment.

But for the monitor positioning issue: ask for an ergonomics assessment. depending on the specific laws in your state, and sometimes laws differ depending on whether your company counts as a "small business" or not (small businesses sometimes don't have the same legal obligations as large businesses), this might be something she is legally obligated to provide for you. I know this is the case in several states I've lived in the US, but then again I've tended to be at large companies/organizations so I would read up on the relevant laws in FL. An ergonomic assessment is basically where someone comes in and makes sure your desk/chair/computer stuff is positioned optimally for your body size/mechanics so you don't get any kind of injury (e.g. neck issues, carpal tunnel syndrome, that kind of thing) from doing your job. If the ergonomics people recommend putting your screens in a "v" shape, there is little your boss can do to make you put them straight again — that would put her at risk for a lawsuit, because you would have concrete evidence that an expert in ergonomics came in and made recommendations to prevent injury, and then your boss deliberately went against those recommendations.

Chashachka

Nine

I hear you on this. I've been the person with the target on my back by a toxic manager.

First, I want you to realize that there is nothing you can do to get her to stop being shitty. All you can control is your own behavior. This is so important for you to understand--there are things you can do to minimize the likelihood of pissing her off, but you cannot preempt your boss's whims. You cannot anticipate what is going to piss her off, but you will drive yourself crazy if you try. From personal experience, I can tell you it is emotionally draining trying to head off whatever nonsense somebody like this is going to come up with next, and it feels even worse when you do everything right and they still pull something new out of their ass. Start learning to accept that no matter what you do, she may take issue with it, so look out for yourself.

Keep your nose clean. Cleaner than your colleagues. Head down, be polite and agreeable, no unauthorized internet use. It's not fair that you're being targeted but in most cases they don't have to apply the rules equally. You generally (not always, but in most cases) have to be able to prove that the unequal application of rules is a direct result of discrimination against a protected class. Basically, don't give your boss a reason if she's looking for one.

From there, continue moving your monitor in whatever way makes you most comfortable. I'd personally get a doctor's note. Bring it to her politely. This may piss her off, but oh well (see: my first piece of advice), and it grants you a little protection. That's not to say that people like this don't retaliate illegally, but again, you can't control that. There are plenty of other ways to surveil you if she wants--she can move you desks or install software or whatever. She knows this and this is some micromanaging, power play nonsense.

Continue looking for another job. Don't get stuck there, don't get complacent, and do what you can to adhere to the other rules while you're there.

TheresCocaineInIt

Ten

I don't understand this type of behavior by employers.

If your boss thinks you're goofing off at work why doesn't she just fire you and hire somebody else?

It's some sort of powertrip bullshit. You need to get out of this place. This lady is never, ever going to give you a raise or promote you.

AdSin15

Eleven

Are there seriously people in here suggesting that having your monitors parallel to one another instead of angled to face you directly could cause worker's comp level injury? I mean, come on, with modern computer monitors, you shouldn't even have to move your head at all.

I may be inviting the downvotes, but when I was in my 20s, I said a lot of stuff that seemed convincing at the time but looking back was incredibly transparent. I'm not buying the neck pain excuse. Are you sure you're not doing things you're not supposed to be doing, OP?

LuckJury

Twelve

Is there anyone in your office with a grudge?

I had similar things happen to me once and after I left that business I found out another employee had been trashing me to my boss out of fear of competition.

dead_wolf_walkin

Thirteen

Florida is a "2 party consent" state when it comes to recording. In other words if your boss wants to stay out of hot water she would need to be able to provide clear evidence that you were informed of the recording (like signs saying "this area is under video surveillance".) Additionally recording in areas where privacy is assumed (like a bathroom) is a great way for someone to get into trouble.

But best case, you start legal action and then what? She gets fined? It sounds like she is just a jerk, do you want to be working (hard) for a jerk? I would just nod, say whatever and find somewhere else to work ASAP.

WalkingTaco42

Fourteen

Now I've been noticing that sometimes the screen is straight again.

She's being passive-aggressive and isn't immediately confronting you. It's been a month and still no confrontation. This is to your advantage. You could have another job lined up before she even confronts you. Just keep looking for a new job. Keep putting the screen back the way you like it until she explicitly tells you "Keep the screen in this position exactly at all times or else." Play dumb and tell her that you didn't understand that's what she wanted but of course now that you understand you are happy to do it the way she likes. Then never tilt the screen again after her command not to.

After this, If your neck is really hurting too much, then maybe you can offer her other alternatives. "Hey boss, I know you like to see my screen as I'm working. What if we use screen-share, or a smaller camera positioned directly at my screens? Then you can see my work, and my neck doesn't hurt." The surveillance is creepy, but if you can find a way to placate her while saving you from neck pain, then you can still look for a new job and at least your neck doesn't hurt.

caused_a_sparky

Fifteen

Your boss is an *ss, but she's within her rights to be an *ss, which sucks. As long as having the screens like that isn't actually dangerous, she can require you to have them however she pleases. You can try to go to HR, if your company has one, or her manager, but both options leave you open to retaliation, and in either case, you might get no help at all. I'd suggest keeping your head down and don't make a big deal about it - try sitting a bit farther back and see if that helps your neck, or even going down to only one screen if it's really bad. It's not fair, or right, but it's the hand you've been dealt, it looks like.

Get a new job asap, and don't ever use her as a reference. Check out the Ask a Manager advice column for advice on toxic workplaces and how to write a good resume and cover letter.

Ktesedale

Sixteen

Go into work and slant the monitors to your needs then before you leave the office, reposition then straight again. If your boss confronts you, she will have to explain how she notices that they're not slanted after work hours but are slanted during work hours.

anon1mus

Laws should always protect the people, ALL the people!

Laws are amiable. We know this. They often change with the times, with enough revolution that is. Laws are there to protect and serve, however they can be too complex and just downright odd and often absurd.

Redditor u/AshSpergers wanted to discuss the rules from around the world that may not make the most sense by wondering.... What's a stupid law where you live?

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