Can an individual employed by a neighbor legally record a conversation with the “employer” in an attempt prove breach of contract?

UPDATED: Sep 1, 2011

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Can an individual employed by a neighbor legally record a conversation with the “employer” in an attempt prove breach of contract?

A verbal agreement had been established with a neighbor regarding child care services that have been provided. The contract has been one-sided and the “nanny” has been underpaid and worked in excess of a 40-hour workweek without just compensation. In addition, annual leave benefits have not been provided per the agreement and there is no physical contract to prove the breach of contract. The goal is to record an admission of the contract for legal use, if necessary.

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

TN is a "1-party consent" state. Basically, what this means is that as long as the person recording a conversation is a party to it, then the recording is legal. If the person is not a party to the conversation, then recording that conversation is prohibited.

That having been said, the law makes an exception for "in-person communications"in which the parties do not have a "reasonable expectation of privacy". So for example, it would be legal to record a conversation in a public place where it might reasonably be overheard.

So depending on where you are planning this recording matters. If it is within someone's home make sure that you are a party to the conversation. If it is on a siewalk then, arguably, there is no expectation of privacy. So recording, even if you are not participating in the conversation, may well be legal.

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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