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What is considered an invasion of privacy at work?

Determining whether you have suffered an invasion of privacy requires evaluating whether you had a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if you had a private phone call in your office where you didn’t think anyone was listening and you later found out a coworker was recording you nearby, you would have an argument that you reasonably expected your phone call to stay private. Alternatively, you would not have that same reasonable expectation of privacy if you answered a call on speaker phone in the middle of a busy conference room.

Do employees really have any rights to privacy in the workplace?

Yes, and it is contingent on whether you had a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, we suggest you read your employee handbook carefully because there is usually information regarding whether your employer has a right to search your computer or phone, or whether there is surveillance in the workplace. In fact, many employers have policies that state employees do not have an expectation of privacy while using company resources, such as phones, computers and email. This is important for you to know at the outset so you are not caught off guard.

Is it legal to have cameras with audio in the workplace in California?

In California, employers can install surveillance cameras to further their own business interests. This means that workplace common areas and public locations (i.e. places where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy) can be recorded and very often are.

However, unlike the majority of states, California is a two-party consent state, which means an employer (or anyone for that matter) cannot record a confidential conversation without your consent, or without you being informed. This why you often hear customer service agents on calls say something to the effect of, “This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes.” It is very important that you read your employee handbook to understand your workplace rights.

What is an employee’s right to privacy?

Employees have privacy rights under both federal and California law. Whether your rights have been violated depends on whether you had a protected privacy interest.

What are the types of privacy that employees might expect?

Employees can expect to have privacy where there is a reasonable expectation of it, i.e. in restrooms, showers, locker rooms, or fitting rooms. However, pay attention to your employer’s surveillance policies because you might think you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when sending work emails, for example, when you likely do not. 

What are the possible consequences of invasion of privacy?

If your privacy is violated, you may be entitled to monetary damages or injunctive relief. Please schedule a call with one of our dedicated attorneys to evaluate your case.

What is the punishment for violation of privacy?

You may be able to sue your employer for financial compensation. However, to do so, you will need to prove: (1) The employer violated your right to privacy; (2) You as the employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy; (3) There was a serious invasion of privacy; and (4) You as the employee suffered serious harm as a result of the surveillance.

Can you sue your employer for invasion of privacy?

Yes, under both California and federal law, you can sue your employer for invasion of privacy.

How can an employee privacy rights attorney help me?

A privacy rights attorney will help you understand your rights in the workplace, whether those rights were violated and whether you are entitled to compensation for any harm suffered. Please call us and we would be happy to discuss your case with you.