Surveillance Law and Legal Definition

In most cases, setting up a video monitor is legal unless the cameras represent an unreasonable violation of privacy or the images are being used for commercial purposes without a person's consent. There is no precise drawing line on the umbrella of privacy.

Surveillance in the workplace may include monitoring of email, phone communications, computer files, video surveillance, and other methods of observing employee activities. However, a surveillance camera cannot be located where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Recently, there has been a growing trend among employers to monitor the actions and performance of their workers. Concerns about employee productivity, quality of work, employee theft or misuse of company property, unlawful drug use, and other factors potentially affecting employee productivity, combined with technological developments, have increasingly led employers to use new ways to monitor employee performance.

Although often referred to as "wiretap" statutes, federal and state laws, which vary by state on this subject cover much more than tapping onto telephone lines, including eavesdropping on oral conversations and intercepting or accessing phone or electronic communications. Employers considering technological methods of monitoring employee communications should first carefully examine whether the contemplated actions would be lawful under these statutes.