Tips for Avoiding Liability From Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance cameras can be a powerful security tool in your business.

Whether you own a retail store, restaurant or any other kind of business, it’s important to protect yourself from theft and other crimes. There are many aspects to the right security system for your business, but one of the most important is having a surveillance camera system. However, there are Federal and State privacy and wiretapping laws that can easily be violated if install your cameras in the wrong places or record the wrong events, and that can put you at risk for a whole host of legal problems. At XYZ Security, we are dedicated to helping you find the right surveillance system for your needs, but we also want to ensure that your system is compliant with all State and Federal laws. That’s why we’ve come up with these tips to help you avoid liability from surveillance camera use in your business:

#1. Don’t place cameras or recording devices in private rooms or spaces.

As we mentioned in our last blog, any camera or recording device that violates a reasonable expectation of privacy is in violation of the law. However, determining a reasonable expectation of privacy is not always black and white. In some areas, like bathrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, hotel rooms, etc., it’s obvious that a camera could violate privacy. But other areas, like break rooms, cubicles or file rooms, are also protected by privacy and wiretapping laws, even if they are semi-public or shared spaces. If there are any questions as to whether the location of your surveillance cameras violates any privacy or wiretapping laws, it’s best to consult your lawyer.

#2. Make sure your cameras are clearly marked.

Apart from areas where a reasonable expectation of privacy is upheld, like bathrooms or break rooms, in most areas, it’s okay to install surveillance cameras, but it is not okay to record people without their knowledge or consent. One of the best ways to avoid liability in these instances is to ensure that your surveillance cameras are clearly marked. As a general rule, the more open and clear you are about your surveillance practices, the less likely it is for an employee or customer to claim that their privacy was violated.


#3. Take extra precautions when recording your employees.

While most people realize that it violates privacy to install surveillance cameras in bathrooms, dressing rooms and other areas where people undress, many employers do not realize that employees also have a reasonable expectation of privacy in open or shared work areas, like break rooms, cubicles, etc. Just because conversations and events can be observed by other employees, it does not mean that your employees do not have a right to privacy in these areas. The fact of the matter is that, if you install cameras in these areas, you could open yourself up to lawsuits and other legal issues.

#4. Have a clear video surveillance policy in your business.Liability2

Anytime you are planning to use video surveillance in your business, it’s important to have a clear and concise video surveillance policy. This policy needs to be in writing and distributed to anyone affected. It’s also a good idea to include your surveillance policy in your employee handbook. It’s much less likely that a privacy violation will be recognized if the employee was warned through a written policy that is widely known by all employees in the workplace. Make sure that your policy includes the duration, scope and methods you use for surveillance. It also needs to notify your employees that recordings can be used to monitor performance and assess the need for disciplinary action. Additionally, it’s smart to get a signature from your employees to acknowledge the policy.

#5. Consult with your lawyer prior to installing surveillance cameras.

As we mentioned in our first point, if you ever have any questions about the legality of your surveillance cameras, it’s always smart to consult with your attorney. But even if you feel confident that you aren’t violating any laws, it’s still a good idea to do so. After all, surveillance laws can be complicated, and what violates someone’s reasonable expectation of privacy won’t always be obvious. It’s all too easy to accidentally violate privacy and wiretapping laws without even realizing you’re doing it in the first place, and that opens you up to expensive legal problems that can easily be avoided by having a conversation with your attorney.

Let us help you find the right solutions for your surveillance needs.

Using surveillance cameras in your business is a lot more involved than simply installing a few cameras around the building, and that’s why it’s important to turn to a security company you can trust when it comes to surveillance cameras systems. Luckily, here in Los Angeles, you have XYZ Security on your side, and we have what it takes to handle all of your surveillance needs. Let us help you find the right solutions for your business. Contact us today to get started.