Is it illegal to be recorded at work with my knowledge and with the info being used against me?

A co-worker let me know that I was being recorded on my computer talking about my boss. I have been treated very poorly before and after finding this out, I feel harassed and very uncomfortable even being there anymore.

Asked on November 29, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Employers have a great deal of discretion in monitoring its employees. The fact is that as a general rule an employee has a limited rights to privacy in the workplace (other than in the restrooms, changing areas, etc). So unless such monitoring activity is expressly prohibited by virtue of company policy or a union/employment contract, your employer listening in to your conversations is in all likelihood legal so long as you were put on notice of such a policy. That having been said, if your boss records these conversations they may be breaking the law. In PA, a conversation may only be reocrded if both parties to the conversation consent to its being recorded. Additionally, if your employer acts upon an illegally recorded conversation (e.g. disciplines you over it) they can find themselves in both civil and criminal trouble. That having been said, there is an exception to the above would be if there was no "expectation of privacy". In other words, where you record matters. If it is in an employee's private office, it's illegal; if it's in an open lunchroom where the conversation could be overheard, it's legal. Bottom line, this can be a gray area of the law and statutes vary from state-to-state. At this point, you can contact your state's department of labor for further information or consult directly with a local employment law attorney.

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Employers have a great deal of discretion in monitoring its employees. The fact is that as a general rule an employee has a limited rights to privacy in the workplace (other than in the restrooms, changing areas, etc). So unless such monitoring activity is expressly prohibited by virtue of company policy or a union/employment contract, your employer listening in to your conversations is in all likelihood legal so long as you were put on notice of such a policy. That having been said, if your boss records these conversations they may be breaking the law. In PA, a conversation may only be reocrded if both parties to the conversation consent to its being recorded. Additionally, if your employer acts upon an illegally recorded conversation (e.g. disciplines you over it) they can find themselves in both civil and criminal trouble. That having been said, there is an exception to the above would be if there was no "expectation of privacy". In other words, where you record matters. If it is in an employee's private office, it's illegal; if it's in an open lunchroom where the conversation could be overheard, it's legal. Bottom line, this can be a gray area of the law and statutes vary from state-to-state. At this point, you can contact your state's department of labor for further information or consult directly with a local employment law attorney.


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