Is it legal for an employer to record audio and/or video of employees if they are not physically present in the office?

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Is it legal for an employer to record audio and/or video of employees if they are not physically present in the office?

I share a small office space separated by cubicles. Other than the restroom, there is not a break or lunchroom of any kind. If the party recording is physically out of the office, can they legally record employee conversations held in the office without the employees knowledge or consent?

Asked on November 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Employers must provide written notice to all workers that audio/video surveillance is being used on the work premises, and where it is being used. That having been said, there is no “expectation of privacy” in public areas (i.e. lobbies, stairwells, conference rooms, etc.), so recording conversations in such areas is permissable. Otherwise, recording without employees' consent is illegal. Since these laws vary from state-to-state, you can contact your state's department of labor and/or consult with a local employment law attorney to be certain of your rights.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

They can record the conversations IF they obtained prior "blanket" or general consent to do so: e.g. they notified workers that  office conversations would be recorded. If they did that, then by continuing to work there in face of notice of recording would constitute consent to be recorded, since employees unwilling to be recorded should have sought alternate employment. But without knowledge of the recording, there could be no consent, and this would be illegal.
 
 


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