Can my employer use a security camera system to spy on employees?

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Can my employer use a security camera system to spy on employees?

My employer installed security video cameras in our recreation center because of an increasing number of thefts and fights by customers. He is now using it to monitor the work of employees. This was discovered because he printed a photo off of an area that had not been cleaned yet and confronted the employee. He has not notified employees that he would be using this system for this purpose. Is this legal for him to do?

Asked on December 27, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The constitutional right to privacy boils down to the "expectation" of privacy.  For instance, someone has an expectation of privacy in their own home.  However, privacy in the workplace is different.  Unfortunately, an employee has no expectation of privacy at work.  In general, employers have the right to install video surveillance systems throughout the workplace.  The only places that the audio and video are prohibited are the bathroom.  Other than this area, an employer is permitted to oversee and record any inside the office/common areas.  In fact, in addition to cameras, an employee has no say as to whether or not the employer may record such things as phone calls and work station monitoring devices. 

Note:  In cases where the camera is hidden and/or audio is used, courts tend to limit employer rights. 


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