Surveillance Cameras: Can I Watch My Employees?

imagesCan you legally install cameras in the workplace if you suspect employees are stealing? That’s the question posed to me by one of my clients.

While in some cases installing video cameras may be legal, employers should first check their respective state laws. In this case, the client is in Massachusetts.

The Courts have ruled differently depending on the circumstances of the situation, so employers should be careful in doing this. What is clear, is one can never install cameras in areas where anyone can reasonably expect privacy. Those areas include restrooms, lockers, showers, etc.

So what should an employer do when considering using hidden surveillance equipment? Well, in all cases like this, it is always smart to consult with a labor attorney first.

Secondly, cameras can never be installed in an area where individuals can reasonably expect privacy. And third, you should have as one court stated a “legitimate interest in the efficient operation of the workplace.” In other words, don’t do it because you’re simply curious about what’s going on.

With that said, here are some other things you should do:

  1. Tell employees in advance that the video monitoring will be occurring. Put it in your handbooks and discuss in employee meetings.
  2. Tell employees where the cameras would operate. Note how banks and stores warn you with signs upon entering.
  3. Do not record any sound—the Courts prohibit this.
  4. Finally, never have a camera focused on one person.

It is unfortunate that employers even have to consider these options. That said, you might want to explore other options first. But if you opt to use cameras, make sure you comply with your state labor laws.

 If you need some help, contact my HR HelpLine.

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1 Comment

Filed under Compliance

One response to “Surveillance Cameras: Can I Watch My Employees?

  1. Pingback: Handbooks: Time to Update | Uncomplicating Management

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