Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are your employees recording you?

ABCNews asks if your employees are secretly recording workplace events to gather evidence for future discrimination and other lawsuits:

Labor experts and employment lawyers say that as cell phones and other digital devices have become more common, employees have gotten increasingly savvy about using high-tech tools to record what they consider discriminatory or inappropriate activity at the office, often in secret….

Katrina Patrick, a Houston employment lawyer…, estimates that more than half of the workers who come to see her bring audio or video recordings, photos, or electronic messages to the first meeting. “Everyone walks around with our cell phones, and our cell phones are armed with all sorts of cameras and recording devices,” she said. “I am actually more surprised when there isn't digital evidence than when there is.”

What’s more, these surreptitious recordings are lawful in Ohio, which permits audio recordings in which only one party—the person with the hidden device—knows about the recording. While Ohio is in the majority on this issue, beware in other states, 12 of which require the consent of all parties. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press provides a good summary of these various state laws.

Just because Ohio law permits these recordings does not mean that you have to allow them in your workplace. What steps can you take to protect yourself and your business against these covert tactics?

  • Have policies prohibiting these secret recordings.
  • Remind employees before every meeting that recordings are prohibited.
  • Act, swiftly, decisively, and consistently if you learn that employees have broken these rules.
  • Lastly, assume that employees and job applicants are recording every workplace interaction and act accordingly.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus. For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.