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The Ethics & Laws of Security Monitoring at a Business

Whether you are a business owner, work in a human resources department or are a person who is interested in anything and everything related to staying safe, you have probably noticed how surveillance camera systems have become more efficient and easier to install. This fact, combined with a desire to heighten security at workplaces, means that more companies are looking into installing security camera systems both inside and outside the building.

While wanting to keep employees safe and having high-quality footage to fall back on if a situation occurs, there are some ethics to consider as well as laws to be knowledgeable about prior to installing this type of monitoring system.

Privacy concerns

As Omega HR Solutions notes, when it comes to assessing privacy issues in regards to security monitoring, start by researching the laws of your state. Many states have passed laws about using a surveillance system in the office, and employers must take this into consideration. If you are unsure about the laws in your area, check out; the site includes recording, communications and surveillance laws by state. If your state has not yet enacted a law, there are two other factors to consider before installing cameras in the office: one, if you have a legitimate business need to do so, and second, your employees’ “reasonable expectations” of privacy. As for the first point, if you are the owner of a brick and mortar store and want to prevent shoplifting, you could contend that a security camera is a reasonable option. In regards to the latter point, your employees should reasonably expect to not be filmed when they are in the restroom.

Consent issues

If you decide to install a security camera system in the workplace, it is best to let your employees know so they can provide consent. In most states, it is against the law to record conversations without both parties saying it’s okay with them. Depending on what type of camera you want to use, you may end up getting both audio and video footage, so err on the side of caution and notify your team with a written policy notice that they are being monitored. This is a clear example of wanting to dot your I’s and cross your T’s prior to putting the cameras at work — as long as you have a clear policy that everyone knows about, you will be less likely to have to deal with a lawsuit later on.

What can employers do with the footage?

Once you have installed a security camera system, you might be wondering exactly what you can do with all of the footage. In general, as long as you are using it to capture and/or prevent shoplifters or other security issues in the office, you should be okay. Unlike older security camera systems from the days of yore that captured grainy footage that you can barely make out, modern-day cameras do an excellent job. For example, the 4K Ultra HD Resolution Camera from Lorex Technology features a state-of-the-art 8.51 MP image sensor, which can easily capture 4K video. In addition, the camera has an impressive amount of bandwidth and video storage capabilities, which will extend the amount of video you can keep on the hard drive.

Employees still have rights

Despite the fact that your employees have agreed to be monitored via a security camera system, you still have to be very careful about how you go about it. Going back to the earlier point, you are not allowed to violate their privacy, like using some zoom-in feature to nab footage of any personal paperwork on their desk, or installing a camera in the lunchroom and posting a video on social media of someone eating their leftovers with too much gusto. Follow state laws, be prudent with your approach and you should be okay.

When used correctly and lawfully, security monitoring is a great option

If you have been bothered with valid security issues in the workplace like stealing, or if you have other reasonable concerns regarding the safety and security of your office and valued employees, installing a security monitoring system can put everyone’s minds at ease. By making sure you understand how the cameras work, your state’s laws and the need to be transparent about the entire process, it can be a decision that helps to reduce crime and other issues in your company.

Author Info: Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 15 years. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics, and always looks for opportunities to learn about new subjects.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

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