Is it legal for my supervisor to videotape me?

I work at a union facility. My supervisor caught me violating a work rule. He claims the violation would have been over by the time he found a union steward, so he pulled out his cell phone and videotaped me as he approached me. He said his seeing me was enough to write me up; he just videotaped it with his cell phone because he knew I would deny it.

I am reading that the NLRB ruled my employer must bargain with my union over the installation and use of hidden surveillance cameras. I can’t find any articles about my Supervisor using his cell phone camera. I mean it wasn’t hidden, so did he violate my rights?

Ann Kiernan replies:

The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that employers must bargain with unions not only about hidden cameras, but other devices. In Saint Barnabas Medical Center, 1999 NLRB LEXIS 582 (1999), nurses were required to wear tracking devices in their uniform badges in order to improve patient comfort and care. Since information gathered by the new system had the potential of leading to discipline, the NLRB held that the tracking system was a bargainable issue touching on the terms and conditions of employment.

But I could find no case dealing with a supervisor, acting on his own, using his cell phone. However, if management made it a practice to videotape employee encounters, I assume that would also be a bargainable issue. This is a great question to bring up to your union representatives. Good luck.

Posted 06-07-2016

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.