Can an employer listen to an employee’s phone call without consent?

Asked on October 2, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is a lesser expectation of privacy in the workplace so in most instances an employer can monitor phone calls at the workplace (for reasons of quality control, etc.). Business related calls may be monitored unannounced in most states but others require that the parties must be informed that the conversation is monitored and/or recorded.
As for personal calls, when an employer realizes the call is personal, they must immediately stop monitoring it. However, when employees are told not to make personal calls from specified business phones, the employee then takes the risk that calls on those phones may be monitored.
Bottom line, if you need to make a personal call at work, use your own mobile phone.

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is a leseer expectation of privacy in the workplace so in most instances an employer can monitor phone calls at the workplace (for reasons of quality control, etc.). Business related calls may be monitored unannounced in most states but some require that the parties must be informed that the conversation is monitored and/or recorded.
As for personal calls, when an employer realizes the call is personal, they must immediately stop monitoring it. However, when employees are told not to make personal calls from specified business phones, the employee then takes the risk that calls on those phones may be monitored.
Bottom line, if you need to make a personal call at work, use your own mobile phone.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, not without consent. However, that consent can be implicit, rather than explicit if your employer tells you that they may listen in, then by continuing to work there and use the phone as opposed to quitting/resigning, you are considered to have consented to the employer listening to your calls.


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