pocket dial; phone; privacy; invasion of privacy; fired

Pocket Dialing Can Be An Issue

Pocket Dial Problems

While technology can make many aspects of life much easier, it can also have some drawbacks. This is especially true with your phone. Sure, it’s easier to keep in touch with the world and to get onto social media when the mood strikes. However, there is always the risk of the feared pocket dial. It’s happened to most people at least once. You inadvertently cause your phone to dial someone, and they can then listen to your conversations as they try to get your attention. No one wants to dial an ex by mistake or call their mother when they are out on a date. However, you really don’t want to pocket dial someone while you are saying negative things about that person!

The Worst Pocket Dial

For James Stephens, that’s exactly what happened. He pocket-dialed his boss, Mike Coan. Stephens was talking with his wife at the time, and he also happened to be talking about his boss, which was quite unfortunate for him, as he was apparently saying some unkind things. Soon after, Coan told Stephens that he had the option of being fired or resigning.

Stephens then filed a lawsuit against his boss, saying that Coan was violating his right to privacy by continuing to listen to him and his wife talk, even though he knew the call was not on purpose. However, it can be difficult to prove that this was a violation, as they would need to prove that the call was an intrusion into the employee’s private life.

There is a precedent for this type of case in the United States. The 6th Circuit in Georgia ruled in 2015 that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy for someone who pocket dials another person by mistake. They said that the person who is on the other end has the right to listen and even record the phone call if they choose. They said it was similar to someone who leaves open the curtains and then is upset that people can see inside of their house from the street.

This case, however, takes place in the 11th circuit. Even if it may guide the judge on the decision, there is nothing binding about that previous case. The judge here may find differently in this case. In addition, Coan says that since he is a state employee, he does not have to follow the eavesdropping law in Georgia. At this point, the case is still moving forward, and it is not clear just how it will go for Stephens.

Always Double-Check

Pocket dialing is a menace, and even when you are careful about how you handle and place your phone. You never want to call someone by mistake without even realizing that your phone is active, and they are listening. Get a better case for your phones and double-check before you start saying something that you might not want another person to hear. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry.