Mobile Devices, Photos and Videos in the Workplace

Posted by bop-admin on Mar 24, 2016 12:01:50 AM

No Selfies at Work

Does this rule violate employee rights?

Employers have policies prohibiting employees from using cell phones and other recording devices while at work.  Why? The intention is to maintain employee productivity, protect privacy of the company, employees and customers, and to eliminate the way recording devices reduce the free and candid flow of workplace exchanges. On its surface, this appears very reasonable and would not violate any employment laws.  But, not so, according to the The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

In the NLRB decision of Whole Foods Market Group, Inc. the Board ruled that an employer cannot restrict an employee from taking recordings or photographs without permission. This ruling was intended to ensure an employee's right to document unfair or unsafe working conditions. The case had very specific facts; however, the lesson is to understand that restrictions on workplace recordings is currently a somewhat contested issue. Until this issue plays out, blanket bans or restrictions on workplace recording are not recommended.

Please note that many states have specific restrictions on surveillance of employees in the workplace, workplace inspections and searches as well as requiring consent prior to recording private conversations.  Employers should consult with an attorney before engaging these types of activities.

Download Policy Guidelines:

The HR Support Center through OnePoint has standard handbook policies.  We consolidated relevant information from the database around policy surrounding video recording which we have put in a brief download, including:

  • A sample "Video Surveillance" policy
  • Language your company can use to restrict certain problematic forms of employee recording, but not on infringe on the employee's rights.


Topics: Compliance, HR Tip