California aims to protect its citizens and their privacy. To that end, by enacting Surveillance Camera Sign Law In California, legislators aim to balance privacy with protection. When it comes to determining if you have a right to assert because such a law was violated, it is important to reach out to a California attorney experienced with these laws and with a success rate in prosecuting them.
It used to be that a security professional was required to equip buildings and the rich with a home security system. Now, with the advent and affordability of Nest and other personal systems, everybody is at risk for the invasion of their privacy. For this reasons, the legislature has enacted rules and regulations surrounding Surveillance Camera Sign Law In California that are often the subject of privacy issues in this State.
Think about the prevalence of “nanny cams” to make sure children are safe and properly treated by caregivers. Drivers for Uber, Lyft, taxis and more are likely to install “dash cams” to prevent people from acting dangerously or illegally and making sure there is evidence of such wrongful acts.
While these are benevolent reasons for having surveillance, it does create privacy risks, a factor that has led to California’s public policy against—and actions to prevent—the invasion of privacy of its citizens.
Some of the relevant rules include:
- you may not place surveillance cameras in places where a person has an expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms, dressing rooms, etc.;
- California is a “two-party consent” state, meaning that a recording is unlawful unless both parties consent to its recording. An exception lies if there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, such as being at a large, public venue. Indeed, at a Dodger game, your consent is considered to be implicitly given because you are in public.
- video surveillance is generally not permitted in the workplace, except for situations where (i) the employer has a clearly-defined and communicated workplace policy concerning video surveillance and/or (ii) signs are conspicuously posted making it clear that cameras are recording people.
However, if an employer believes an employee is committing wrongdoing, such as theft or stealing confidential information, an exception is permitted whereby a hidden camera is permitted to confirm such wrongful acts. Of course, an employer must still be careful to limit the recording to the alleged wrongdoing and not to a more general scope.
In its decision in the case of Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc., the California Court explained that employees may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a non-public area like an office, even if others may have access to that area as well. By way of example, in that case, multiple employees had access to the another employee’s shared office. The office was mostly enclosed, still affording those who worked in it “some measure of refuge” so that they did not expect to be surveilled without their knowledge. This was deemed to support a reasonable expectation of privacy, although had the employees been made aware of the placement of the video camera in their office, this could have reduced the expectation of privacy. Taking all these factors into consideration, the Court decided that (i) the plaintiffs had established a reasonable expectation of privacy in their office and (ii) the employer violated that expectation of privacy by placing a hidden video camera in their office.
- Following this decision, it became smart for employers to follow certain guidelines, including:
notifying employees and other workers that video surveillance exists so as to reduce any expectation of privacy;
- avoiding placing video cameras in locations where video surveillance is prohibited by law, such as bathrooms, locker rooms, or changing rooms;
- being cautious when installing video cameras in non-public areas of the workplace, such as offices;
- being aware that audio surveillance is subject to different and usually more strict rules than video, such as laws prohibiting the use of electronic amplifying or recording devices to listen in on or record a private communication; and
- researching local laws as many vary by jurisdiction, and sometimes in major ways. .
If an employer fails to adhere to any of the above, they may have violated Surveillance Camera Sign Law In California and be subject to claims as a result. Finding specialty attorneys for these types of cases will help employees who are victims due to an employer’s failure to comply with all relevant rules and regulations. Such attorneys can utilize these laws and the relevant facts to help you create the strongest case possible, possibly leading to a significant legal award based on the severity of the wrong, how long it lasted and how negatively the employee was impacted.