Is it illegal to install video surveillance of employees without their consent?

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Is it illegal to install video surveillance of employees without their consent?

We recently put up a still shot camera outside of our building at work that takes a picture of the door (motion activated). We have had a large number of thefts and therefore, did not inform employees of the camera. One of the employees noticed the camera and brought it to our attention (that it is illegal to have the camera without notifying employees). Is this accurate? And if we install video surveillance inside of the building (which we are planning on), must we notify employees and/or customers of this as well? In MA.

Asked on November 14, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Most hidden camera recordings made in the US are perfectly legal without the consent of the people being monitored.  This is particularly true in the workplace since employees typically do not have an "expectation of privacy" although (there have been exceptions made in areas where privacy is assumed such as the bathroom, a locker room, a changing or dressing room).  However, the laws that deal with hidden video recording and privacy issues vary greatly from state-to-state.  In fact there are 13 states that have laws on the books that specifically prohibit the “unauthorized” installation or use of cameras in places with expected privacy, but MA is not one of them.  Accordingly, taping such as you suggest is probably legal.  To make certain, contact a person injury attorney in your area.


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