Clients frequently ask seasoned employment lawyers: may you record a discussion at work? Clients frequently want the ability to record abusive or discriminating statements made by coworkers, bosses, or others. While this is reasonable, depending on where you reside and where the possible discussion is recorded, it may not always be allowed to record someone. Making a legal blunder in this area might result in both criminal and civil consequences.
Recording is Tempting Because it Provides Solid Proof
Having your harasser caught on camera is undeniably significant proof. Having the ability to play a video of your coworkers making racist or sexist remarks, for example, would go a long way toward establishing your case over merely testifying about what they said or did. Recording meetings with human resources may frequently be beneficial in ensuring that you have all of the required information. In these instances, speaking with an experienced employment attorney in your state can assist you in ensuring that you are behaving legally.
The Two Types of States
The first thing you should know is that when it comes to the sort of agreement required to record a conversation, there are two types of states: one-party consent and all-party consent. Only one person involved in the discussion must consent to recording in one-party consent states, and you can be that person if you are participating. Every individual engaged in the discussion must consent to it being recorded in an all-party consent state.
The majority of states operate on the basis of one-party consent. California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington are among the thirteen states that have reached an all-party agreement.
If you live in one of those states, you must get permission from all participants in the discussion before recording it. Again, speaking with an employment lawyer before recording any workplace communication will assist you understand your rights and the recording laws in your state.
Does the Recorded Individual Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?
The second consideration is whether you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location where you are recording. Because there is no expectation of privacy in public places — even if you aren’t a party to the conversation — you can typically record talks there. The lobby, a stairway, or a huge open office space with several cubicles are examples of public places.
The majority of courts have ruled that in the workplace, there is little to no expectation of privacy. However, the instances that led to these decisions were based on extremely particular circumstances. As a general guideline, you should exercise extreme caution while recording in the workplace, and only do so if you reside in a one-party consent state, have all parties’ consent, and/or are in a public space.
Importantly, you may be shielded from retribution if you record a discussion that proves that you were subjected to illegal discrimination or harassment. Again, the specifics of your case and where you reside will determine whether you may be fired for recording a discussion at work. That is why, before recording anything at work, you should contact with an experienced employment attorney.
Do you have questions about this or other employment law topics? Contact PLBSH at (800) 435-7542 to speak with an attorney.