Can a NJ boss set up video/audio devices and monitor and record conversations/activities without my permission?

It is a ‘public area’, specifically right outside/inside the Department of Public
Works Yard. Our office is about 100 feet from the gate, however he has video
camera with a voice activated recording device which none of us employees knew,
and heard my conversation with co-workers and wrote me up for a conversation
outside the gate, while on my time because of what was said. Is this legal? If
not, what repercussions can I have towards my boss? It’s a hostile work
environment anyway and he is harassing the older group of us. This is in New
Jersey and we are AFSCME Union Members. Thanks

Asked on April 4, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Video recording is legal, so long as it is not in a bathroom, changing room, or someone's private office without their knowledge--i.e. it is not in a location where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Videotaping in common areas or outside is legal.
However, audio recording is illegal: in your state, you can only record a conversation if at least one of the people participating in the conversation consents or agrees to it, but that is not the situation your describe. To record without consent is a criminal act: you could report this to the authorities.
If the employer is harassing employees aged 40 and over, this may also be illegal age-related employment discrimination. If you believe you are being harassed due to your age, contact the NJ Division on Civil Rights (DCR) to file a complaint.


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