What is the legality if using CCTV in the workplace?

My employer uses CCTV in the workplace to spy on me when conducting my work activities. I work in a retail store with only 2 shops, so it’s pretty close knit. The owner of the business checks the cameras regularly at least once an hour, as a guess to see what I’m doing. They usually use the cameras to find something to moan about with the shop and then proceed to shout at me over the phone for the slightest thing. I feel like resigning, as I always have the feeling I’m being watched. I need the job desperately to pay the bills, and that is the only reason I have not left

already. Would this fall under constructive unfair dismissal if I was to leave? And is checking the cameras for these reasons legal?

Asked on March 12, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a company needs to have a legitimate business reason for conducting video surveillance in the workplace. However, those reason can be qute broad; it can be for reasons of theft, to monitor worker performance or for general security purposes. Further, private companies generally have a right to video monitor the common areas of the work premises. Although, in most states the law has established that an employer cannot violate employee privacy rights by placing cameras in areas where employees would expect some degree of privacy such as in restrooms, changing rooms, breal rooms, etc. That all having been said, putting up video surveillance without notice to employees or using hidden cameras may also violate employee privacy rights. Bottom line, from what you have written, unless this action violates the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you have no claim here.

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a company needs to have a legitimate business reason for conducting video surveillance in the workplace. However, those reason can be qute broad; it can be for reasons of theft, to monitor worker performance or for general security purposes. Further, private companies generally have a right to video monitor the common areas of the work premises. Although, in most states the law has established that an employer cannot violate employee privacy rights by placing cameras in areas where employees would expect some degree of privacy such as in restrooms, changing rooms, breal rooms, etc. That all having been said, putting up video surveillance without notice to employees or using hidden cameras may also violate employee privacy rights. Bottom line, from what you have written, unless this action violates the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you have no claim here.


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