Is it legal for an employer to “bug” your office?

UPDATED: Feb 19, 2012

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Is it legal for an employer to “bug” your office?

I work for a public school district and I believe our supervisor has bugged our office so she can listen to conversations that we are having when she is away. Is this illegal? What rights do I have if she has?

Asked on February 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The right to privacy comes down to an individual's "expectation" of privacy.  For instance, a person has an expectation of privacy in their own home.  However, such an expectation of privacy in the workplace is different.  The fact is that, an employee has no expectation of privacy at work.  In general, employers have the right to install recording devices  in the workplace as they see fit.  The only exceptions where such devices are prohibited are the bathroom or employee changing rooms.  Other than these areas, an employer is permitted to record any inside any office and/or common areas. 

Note:  The above having been said, in cases where audio equipment is hidden, courts tend to limit employer rights to a certain extent. 

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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