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Quote of the Day - You don't want to get rid of your experiences, because they're your experiences - good or bad - and you need them, but it would be great if they weren't on the video shelf! - Jennifer Connolley
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Employer May Videotape Workplace

But Better Have A Good Reason

Hoping to capture an evening intruder who surfed the Internet and viewed pornography on a work computer, a company installed a hidden camera to monitor the computer.  The hidden camera was not turned on during the day when the employees were present - just at night in the hopes of catching the culprit.

The employees, however, spotted a flashing red light on the camera during the day, discovered the camera and then sued for invasion of privacy.  The employer had not disclosed to the daytime workers that it had installed the hidden camera pointed at the employees' computers.  The employer did not suspect the employees.

Now here's the rub:  employees have an expectation of privacy in the workplace.  Why?  Well, that's the law, although it seems to this writer that such a right is fairly minimal because it's a work environment, after all, not a home.  But then again, I'm from Orange County, not the greater part of the State of California where such rights are taken for granted.

But I'm getting off track. 

 In our case, Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc., the California Supreme Court held that a privacy violation based on intrusion would require that the employer "intentionally intrude[d] into a place...to which plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy."

The Court also reasoned that "the intrusion must occur in a manner highly offensive to a reasonable person." While the Court acknowledged that employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a "solo office [with] relative seclusion," however, in order to state a claim against an employer, the intrusion must be "sufficiently serious and unwarranted...to constitute an egregious breach of the social norms."

Now there's a definitive rule for you.  It depends on the circumstances. 

The safest way to install a hidden camera is to do so only after disclosing it to the employees and have them ackowledge that the employer has done so and that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy.  Otherwise, employers just may get sued.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, August 04, 2009 at 19:38 Comments Closed (1) |
 
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