Does my employer have the right to use hidden surveillance cameras in an office or restroom?

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Does my employer have the right to use hidden surveillance cameras in an office or restroom?

I work for a steel company and we have normal surveillance cameras all over the plant. However, yesterday I discovered a hidden camera mounted in air freshener. We have these air fresheners in the restrooms and in the office. Note, I’ve only found 1 in the office; I haven’t checked restrooms yet. This seems odd to me either way as the material we sell has to be transported by 18-wheelers and minimal cash is ever kept on hand. So I do not see it being used as a prevention of theft.

Asked on February 10, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, each state has its own laws that control privacy issues; specifically cameras in the workplace. Typically, however, a company needs to have a legitimate business reason for conducting video surveillance in the workplace. It can be for reasons of theft but it can also be 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. However, 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, break areas and changing rooms. Further, putting up video surveillance without notice to employees or using hidden cameras may also violate employee privacy rights. As a result, employers should provide notice to their employees of the existence of cameras in their workplace. Although, some state courts have protected employers' use of hidden cameras in the workplace in under certain circumstances. To be certain of your rights under specific state law, you can consult dierectly with an employment law attorney or contact your state's department of labor.


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