Can a restaurant and store owner place listening devices to hear private conversations of customers and staff without their knowledge?

Asked on February 8, 2013 under Personal Injury, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Your state is known as an "all party" consent state. This means that all parties to a conversation must be informed that it is being recorded and agree to it (some states are "1 party consent", so only 1 party to the conversation need have knowledge of, and give permission for, the recording).

The exception to this is for conversations in public places. Since such conversations are capable of being overherd by a third party, there is no "reasonble expectation of privacy", therefore no consent to such a recording is necessary.

So based on just where the recording devices are plced and other factors, this action may or may not be illegal. To be certain of your rights, you should go over the specific details of your case with a personal injury attorney in your area. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.