As a state government employee, does my employer have the legal right to record my telephone calls?

UPDATED: May 25, 2012

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As a state government employee, does my employer have the legal right to record my telephone calls?

I work for the state of Hawaii in the Judiciary. As an employee, do I have the right to privacy when using the company telephone? Can my employer record or listen in on my phone conversations?

Asked on May 25, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Absent a specific prohibtion regarding such action in an employment contract, union agreement or employment policy, state law will control. In some states and under certain circumstances recording someone's private telephone converstions without their permission is legal, in others it is not. However, there is something known as a "reasonable expectation of privacy". So, for example, if you have a conversation in a public place, it is reasonable that it may be overheard and therefore would not be considered to be private. In the workplace setting (a public setting), the general rule is that when using an employer's phone, computer, etc. there is expecation of privacy; therefore such conversations can be recorded without an employee's knowledge. Consequently (without more specifics of your case) your employer most probably has the legal right to record your calls.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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