A recent survey by the American Management Association revealed that more than half of the employers who responded use video surveillance at work to counter theft, violence, or sabotage. Also, 16% of the employers surveyed used video surveillance to monitor employee performance.
Most states have passed at least some privacy-related laws. Many of these laws are intended to protect consumers by, for example, limiting the ways companies may use personal information or requiring businesses to maintain the confidentiality of medical information or Social Security numbers. (See HIPAA, FACTA, specifically the Red Flag regulations.)
So where does the employee’s expectation of privacy end and the employer’s right to monitor his/her business begin? Pretty much as soon as the employee steps onto company owned property (including corporate vehicles).
Privacy for Certain Employee Activities
Even if your state hasn’t passed laws that specifically protect workplace privacy, you almost certainly can’t be taped or filmed while doing certain things at work, such as using the restroom or changing clothes.
If there’s no state law that specifically allows or prohibits surveillance, courts determine whether an employee’s privacy has been violated by looking at two competing interests: the employer’s need to conduct surveillance and the employee’s reasonable expectation of privacy. An employee who is using the bathroom or getting undressed has a very strong, and very reasonable, expectation of privacy — and few (if any) employers will have a substantial enough need to film employees doing these things to override the employee’s interest. (African blood diamond mines aside.)
Other activities may also be off-limits for employer surveillance. For example, employers may not secretly film or tape union meetings. Also, new litigation is emerging regarding women expressing breast milk at work. Many women involved in this activity believe a separate area (surveillance free) should be established in companies of reasonable sizes to afford to do so, space-wise.
What and Where Can An Employer Place Surveillance Cameras
(The below information applies to NYS. Please contact your state’s Department of Labor for state-specific rules regulating workplace electronic surveillance.)
- Hidden and in-view cameras can be installed at the workplace.
- The electronic cameras may not contain audio capture.
- Surveillance cameras may not be placed in locker rooms, shower rooms, bathrooms or employee lounges.
Bear in mind also that a full 66% of employers now monitor internet usage at the workplace.
BNI Operatives: Steps Ahead.
- It’s Getting So a Stalker Can’t Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy Anymore (michellemalkin.com)
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