From the Hotline: Workplace Cameras and Privacy

Question: Are employers required to notify employees if cameras are installed in the general areas of the workplace?

Answer: While notice is not necessarily required, especially in general work areas, it is a best practice to notify employees and to obtain written consent prior to installing cameras.

Video surveillance is not prohibited by federal law; however, notice of electronic video monitoring is required in many states. Further, notice and consent is required if there is audio monitoring involved, as there are federal and state laws regarding interception of verbal communications (i.e. wiretapping laws).

Employers should consult legal counsel before instituting any surveillance of employees. While today’s employers have access to increasingly sophisticated ways to monitor employees, the law imposes limits on when and how monitoring techniques may be used. Employers should generally obtain employee consent for surveillance and treat acceptance of reasonable surveillance as a condition of employment.

Finally, keep in mind that an employee may sue for invasion-of-privacy based on videotaping if privacy is expected. Video surveillance should never be done in areas where employees can reasonably expect privacy, such as bathrooms or locker rooms/changing facilities.