We posted the question of whether employers should secretly tape employees on November 12th. Comments came in very quickly on that post, mostly whether doing so would be legal. More readers have weighed in on the wisdom and legality of secretly taping employees:
Marylou Fabbo, a partner at Skoler, Abbot & Presser, P.C. wrote: “This would be illegal in MA where all parties to a conversation must consent to recording. Nevertheless, I find that employees secretly tape conversations with employers. Once the employee gets to a lawyer, the lawyer often lets the employee know that the secret taping was illegal, and the employee does not get to use the recording during the course of litigation. In one case we asserted a counterclaim based on an employee’s illegal recording.”
Kelphene Cunningham, Senior Partner at Kelphene Cunningham & Company, noted: “Some jurisdictions make recording without the knowledge of the parties illegal and the recording would be inadmissible as evidence. However, if all the parties agree that to record that’s a different matter. Secretly recording meeting/s is offensive and objectionable.”
Graham Farinha, a Legal and Compliance Professional, noted: “You cannot secretly tape audio conversations if there is a legitimate expectation of privacy or if the company does not have the necessary policies and procedures in place. This can be avoided by informing employees there is such a policy, posting signs, making it a term of the employment contract, etc…but then the recording will not be secret. This of course leads to the obvious question why the need to tape secretly and by extension, has there been proper identification of the problem and causation leading to such a decision.”
Pamela S. Palmer warned: “Be careful out there. In California, its a crime to secretly tape a conversation without the consent of all parties. Cal. Penal Code 632. Here’s a pretty good summary of the law on a quick Google search: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/recording-phone-calls-and-conversations” Thanks for the helpful summary!
Michele Sommer, an Employee Relations Human Resources Senior Business Partner, wrote: “CT is also a two party state. I recently interviewed with a company that tape records every meeting and conversation and puts them on their intranet site for anyone who is interested to listen to. They believe it’s all about transparency and learning from others. I certainly wouldn’t secretly tape record conversations and if I suspect that an employee is tape recording I ask them if they are and then tell them that we don’t allow that.”
Interesting. We wonder how many employees at that company actually take the time to listen to a whole recording of one of those meetings placed on the intranet and whether the company does find that taping the meetings is beneficial. We also wonder whether disciplinary meetings would also be taped as most employees would prefer that discipline is not public.
Food for thought!