Are Workplace Recording Bans Legal?


Smart phone technology, and the ability of video and audio recordings to be uploaded to social media sites, has prompted many employers to adopt rules regulating the surreptitious recording of workplace interactions. The “no recording” rule adopted by Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. is a common example:


“It is a violation of [Company] policy to record conversations, phone calls, images or company meetings with any recording device (including but not limited to cellular telephone, PDA, digital recording device, digital camera, etc.) unless prior approval is received from [management], or unless all parties to the conversation give their consent. Violation of this policy will result in corrective action up to and including discharge.”

The business justifications for such a rule can include (1) prevention of workplace bullying, harassment and retaliation, (2) protection of trade secrets and proprietary information, (3) protection of private or embarrassing information shared in confidence, (4) protection of vendor and customer relationships, and (5) encouragement of open dialogue among employees.

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