Can my employer monitor me with video cameras while on the job?

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Posted by Legal Team On July 29, 2016

There are arguments that can be made both for and against the use of video cameras for the purpose of surveillance. And of course, the specifics of the circumstances in which the cameras are employed is extremely significant. On one hand, businesses and even private residences may strategically place cameras for security reasons. But conversely, video cameras can also be used in an effort to violate the privacy rights of individuals.

So, what are the rights of employees at a workplace in regard to the use of video cameras? Well, again, it is the circumstances that dictate whether taping workers is lawful. Some work environments, such as banks and retail stores, routinely have cameras poised in such a manner as to capture the activities of workers. This can be done for theft protection and typically workers in such situations should have no reasonable expectations of privacy.

However, when employees are in work cubicles or other spaces where they interact with their fellow employees, there is generally no compelling reason to have them monitored via video cameras. And in California, the use of video cameras to surveil workers in locker rooms, break rooms, bathrooms and the like is strictly prohibited.

But no matter the circumstances, employers are required to let workers know if they will be subjected to the scrutiny of video cameras. And employers who choose to use videos without legitimate cause could be violating federal wiretapping laws.

One way video camera laws could affect a worker is if he or she was terminated due to actions that were allegedly picked up on a camera that should not have been in use to watch employees. So if an employer has used evidence gleaned from an illicitly placed video camera to terminate your employment, it is possible that your rights were violated.

A California employee rights attorney could review your case to determine if your employer acted illegally in firing you. Based on the evidence found by the attorney, you may be able to be reinstated at your job or be the beneficiary of financial compensation.