Can my employer search my car or purse?

My employer wants everyone to sign a waver stating they can search our desks, purses, or even our cars that are parked on their property. This seems like an invasion of privacy. Does the Fourth Amendment protect us at work?

Asked on October 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The Fourth Amendment does not apply to work--not unless you work for the government. The Fourth Amendment only applies to government action.

Of course, no one may search your personal belongings, vehicle, etc. unless you let them do so; otherwise, they've violated the law (committing trespasspassing, vandalism, a form of theft, etc. depending on circumstances). However, if you consent to the right to search, that is legal. And your employer may make consenting to the right to searrch a condition of employment, and terminate you if you don't grant it. Private employers may put a great many intrusive restrictions on their employees, and employees who choose to not agree to them effectively only have one recourse: look for a different job.

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