If my boss records us with sound and audio, is that legal?

My boss recently showed me the camera that shows she can see and hear everything

we do or say. We got no notice to inform us of being recorded. We did not sign anything.

Asked on April 21, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, videotaping employees in the workplace is permissable so long as it is limited to job performance and work activities. Consequently, an employer may videotape employees to prevent behavior such as employee theft and the like. That having been said, such taperecordings may violate employees' rights to privacy if they are videotaped in areas considered private and personal (i.e. bathrooms, locker rooms, break rooms, etc.). Additionally, employers must provide written notice to all employees that video surveillance is being conducted and where it is being used, as well as state the areas that are off limits from surveillance.
As for voice recording, there is no “expectation of privacy” in public areas (i.e. the lobby, stairwells, conference rooms, etc.), so recording conversations in such areas is legal. Otherwise, recording employees without their consent is illegal unless the person recording the conversation is also a party to the conversation, although in some states all parties must consent to the recording.   To be certain of all of your rights under specific state law, you can contact your state's department of labor and/or consult directly with a local employment law attorney in your area.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An employer may always videotape with a non-hidden camera in non-bathrooms or lockerrooms. As long as the employees are either told about the camera, see a sign posted about the camera, or can see the camera, they have no reasonable expectation of privacy and this is legal.
Similarly, he can record audio IF he tells you (and *everyone* else who may be speaking in the area being recorded--putting up a prominent sign about the recording is therefore a good idea) that conversations may be recorded and that by speaking in that area, you consent to be recorded. He can also make it a condition of employment: i.e. he can employees that "if you work here, you consent to being recorded"--and employees' recourse, if they don't want to be recorded, would be to quit and look for different employment.


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