FOLLOW UP TO ARTICLE ON OCT 20 2015 RE CCTV - AUDIO WORKPLACE PRIVACY
My advice to the subscriber when questioned, was “you may want to talk to your lawyer, but I need to check with mine to get clarity,” which is what I was doing. The reference to a release form, was advice I got from you with regard to a similar question a few months ago when asking about covert cameras in a lunch room. My interpretation of that was, if the subscriber, not their employee, wants to use covert cameras, then I need for them (the subscriber) to sign a release or waiver to protect me in some way.
When I mentioned “employees” in my question for this case, I meant that the subscriber has to inform their employees and the subscriber/employer needs to get some sign-off from their employees. However, that part is clearly in the hands of the subscriber/employer, not me as the security integrator. So, I referred them to their lawyer for that as well, but I wanted to have some better understanding of that topic. There are limitations from certain expectations to privacy in the workplace, some obvious and some not, but it is important for me as a security provider to know how to address the situations or circumstances where they apply to the services I provide. I can’t rely on ambiguity.
When considering audio for this case, I understand only some of the law as described to me by an NLRB lawyer in a brief discussion. Your explanation gives me more clarity on the topic, which will help me to answer the subscriber’s question and provide the appropriate technology or not do the work. If the establishment’s clients are also present, as I explained, there is really no way they can use camera audio monitoring as I understand from your explanation. If you can refer me to a copy of the law, as you recommended, I would appreciate it, as it would help me understand the laws related to this much better and I would pass this along to clients where appropriate.
Michael Serrano, M.Sc., President / CEO
Briteway Security Systems
We have a section on our Website that posts the audio and video laws state by state. See https://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/page/alarm-law-issues
I agree that you need a good understanding of how systems can be used lawfully, and that also covers how they can be used unlawfully. More than likely the issue is going to come down to how the system was used. You are likely not breaking any laws or subjecting yourself to any exposure [other than a lawsuit you may have to defend] by doing an installation. In fact you increase your chances of being included in a lawsuit, or being sued by your subscriber who has been sued, if the subscriber claims that you provided legal counsel on the legality of the system.
Your restaurant subscriber calls you in and tells you it wants cameras in the kitchen and bathrooms, You should advise that cameras cannot be installed in the bathrooms, and you won't do it. Same subscriber tells you it wants audio feature in the cameras. You can tell them that your understanding is that your state is either one party or all parties consent. If sub wants to add the camera with audio feature in the reception area of the restaurant where the greeter meets customers you're now in a grey area because while the employee can sign consent when hired, patrons haven't given consent, and even in a one party state two patrons could be having a conversation that the employee isn't a part of. You can do that installation and I suspose it would be naive of me to suggest that you shouldn't tell the subscriber what you think the law is, as described above. But the better practice is to let the subscriber know that there are laws that affect the use of alarm and security equipment and the subscriber needs to learn and comply with those laws on its own. You are not a lawyer, and when you tell that to your subscriber it's not because you're trying to be difficult, it's just that you're letting your subscriber know that legal issues, especially when they are grey or complex, are beyond your expertise as an alarm or integration expert.
There are often various legal issues you need to be aware of in your business. Some of these issues do require you to inform your subscribers, others leave the onus on the subscriber. For example, in Maryland, some counties require that a monitored alarm system be inspected in order to get an alarm permit, and the alarm company is obliged to inform the subscriber of this requirement. Other jurisdictions may require an alarm permit but leave knowledge of the law and compliance up to the end user. Others may require either the installing company or the monitoring company to ensure compliance with registration or certification requirements.
Not easy to keep up, unless you operate out of your local jurisdiction. But more and more alarm companies are finding opportunities well beyond their usual selling territory, some nationwide. It's keeping our License Compliance Department busy. Better safe than sorry. For alarm license issues contact Nicoletta Lakatos, Esq at 516 747 6700 x 311 or NLakatos@KirschenbaumEsq.com if you need license assistance. For contracts contact our Contract Administrator Eileen Wagda at 516 747 6700 x 312 or EWagda@Kirschenbaumesq.com