As a theft prevention measure, many retail stores use cameras to monitor fitting rooms. This practice is on the rise, due to improved technology and the availability of smaller and less expensive cameras. Similarly, two-way mirrors are also used for this purpose in some stores.
Is It Legal to Monitor a Dressing Room?
The legality of installing cameras in dressing rooms depends on what state the store is located in, and whether the camera records or is simply a live feed. In some states, it is perfectly legal to monitor the dressing room of a retail store by camera or two way mirror, and for all intents and purposes, a live, non-recording camera is a modern equivalent. In other states, this practice is banned outright over privacy concerns.
Many states have taken a middle ground approach, by allowing surveillance, even recorded surveillance, but requiring that the store post obvious and conspicuous notices to inform consumers that they are being monitored.
In every state, video monitoring in sensitive areas, such as a dressing room, for purposes other than theft prevention is illegal. Such conduct could fall under laws prohibiting voyeurism, which is the act of observing unsuspecting individuals, usually strangers, who may be naked or disrobing, for the purpose of seeking sexual excitement.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you suspect that you have been videotaped for purposes other than theft deterrence, you should contact a lawyer immediately, because this is never legal. Even if you have been videotaped for theft deterrent purposes, you may want to contact a privacy or personal injury lawyer.
In some states, the laws on surveillance may be unclear or out of date, and may not even explicitly permit taping. In such instances, any form of video monitoring may be illegal. A local lawyer can help you to understand the laws of your state, and if the store taped you in violation of state law, they may be subject to criminal charges, and in addition, you may be able to recover civil damages for such an invasion of privacy.