Placement of security cameras in an office workspace can be a controversial topic when such surveillance is perceived to be an infringement upon employee privacy. Before installing cameras, your employer should review a number of internal factors relating to security system operation and privacy, including:
- Whether the purpose of the surveillance is to monitor the safety, conduct, and performance of employees.
- Whether an employee handbook states any company regulations regarding employee monitoring.
- Whether employees have been notified that security cameras exist (particularly if they are in unexpected places, such as in a restroom, if you work in a state which allows such surveillance).
Are There Laws Concerning Security Cameras at Work?
Individual states determine the rules governing surveillance in the workplace. Many, such as California, have laws minimizing the ways in which your employer can monitor you. In 1998, the California Legislature prohibited all employers (except for the federal government) from making audio or video recordings of employee restrooms, locker rooms, or changing rooms, unless these recordings were court ordered.
When Are My Privacy Rights Violated?
A seemingly legal observation can become an unjustified invasion of privacy when your employer’s monitoring goes beyond what is required or reasonable. Since "required" and "reasonable" standards tend to be extremely flexible depending on the situation, you should talk with a lawyer about your workplace environment in order to determine whether a violation has occurred.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
If you feel your employer has intruded upon your privacy rights, you may benefit from discussing your concerns and possible courses of action with a lawyer. If you are an employer seeking to establish a security system, an employment lawyer will also be to inform you of your rights and responsibilities.