Is it legal if my boss locked my iPhone so I can’t use it at work?

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Is it legal if my boss locked my iPhone so I can’t use it at work?

He didn’t give me the passcode, thus rendering me helpless when it comes to using my personal cellular device. This seems wrong. Are there any laws being broken in this case?

Asked on July 10, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you let him do it, it is not illegal. And he may tell you that if you don't let him do this, he will fire you, and that would be legal, too, unfortunately, since (unless you have a written employment contract) all employment is "employment at will." That means that an employer may set any terms and conditions (like locking an iPhone) it wishes on employment, and fire anyone who does not comply.

It is only illegal if you said "no" but he then physically took the phone from you to do this (he could fire you, but he can't grab your property): doing this could be, depending on the exact facts, some form of theft, assault, and/or vandalism.


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