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Old 04-14-2006, 07:53 AM   #1
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Hidden Security Cameras In The Workplace

What if the place where she had done this did have a door and was more private, would the ruling be different? Should it be? Where does it stop, are they allowed to put cameras in a bathroom where there is certainly a reasonable expectation of privacy, could it get to that point? Does privacy in the workplace even exist anymore?

By Michael Levenson, Boston Globe Staff | April 14, 2006

A receptionist who sued Salem State College after learning that there was a security camera hidden in her office, videotaping as she changed clothes, had no ''objectively reasonable expectation of privacy" in her workplace, the state's high court said yesterday.

The ruling was blasted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which said the Supreme Judicial Court had ''opened the door to secret video surveillance in the workplace."

''It is certainly a significant setback for privacy in the workplace," John Reinstein, legal director for the ACLU, said in a statement.

Jeff Feuer, a lawyer at Goldstein & Feuer who aided in the case, said, ''Throughout our history, the courts have interpreted the right to privacy to protect people, not places. This decision flies in the face of that principle."

The case began in the summer of 1995, when the receptionist, Gail Nelson, was recovering from a bad sunburn. Several times a day, she left her desk at the college's Small Business Development Center and went to the back of the office, where she unbuttoned her blouse and applied a prescription ointment. Several times, she also changed her clothes, taking advantage of moments when no one else was on the floor and no visitors were expected.

Unknown to Nelson, her boss, Frederick Young, had installed a security camera in the office, which was set to record 24 hours a day. He did so after learning that a former client at the center, who was under investigation for criminal activity, had previously gained unauthorized access to the office after closing hours. When Nelson found out about the camera, she sued Young, alleging he had violated her right to privacy.

Yesterday, the justices ruled unanimously in favor of the college. In a nine-page decision, the court said it reviewed the design of Nelson's workplace and the access that employees had to it, ruling that, ''The office was public."

The place where Nelson changed, behind two partitions, lacked a door and had an opening in it about the width of a desk, wrote Justice Roderick L. Ireland. It was located near the stairs, which employees and visitors used to get to the bathroom. ''Anyone in the center" could enter Nelson's changing place ''at any time" and ''without prior notice," Ireland wrote.

''Despite all of the plaintiff's efforts to discreetly conduct acts of a very personal and private nature in the office, in this case there was no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy," the court said.

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Old 04-14-2006, 07:55 AM   #2
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Hmmm, an interesting issue - do public places deny a right to privacy? does this mean that an integrated CCTV network would be legal?

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Old 04-14-2006, 01:59 PM   #3
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The right of privacy does not travel with the individual, but only envelopes a specific place.
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Old 04-14-2006, 05:02 PM   #4
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Just don't gaze into the palantir if you come across one................{spoken as a wizard friend..........}

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Old 04-14-2006, 05:07 PM   #5
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How did she find out about the camera? If the boss told her, he's an ass. I'm uncomfortable with cameras in areas one would be expected to consider private--bathrooms, locker rooms. I am also uncomfortable with cameras in areas one considers private--one's personal office for one unless you are the legitimate target of such an intrusion--and I cannot see too many circumstances where that would be the case. And if you are being surveilled in the more public parts of the office, I think it would be nice to be informed of such even though I'd be highly uncomfortable working under a camera--not because I am doing anything illegal or against company policy (well, sometimes I'm on the internet for personal use, but they already monitor that--including telling me where I shopped online, lol), but I would be self-conscious the whole day.

It sucks being an employee these days. (And I'm sure the bosses on forum will tell us that it sucks being a boss).
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:27 PM   #6
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People where I work are up at arms over confirmation from Corporate that there are in fact surveillance cameras all throughout our 3 connected office Bldgs. We weren't advised in advance that cameras were going to be installed or used, or where or why. Apparently someone was--and this is so gross--urinating in random offices, on drinking fountains, in hallways and stairways and the cameras were installed and monitored to try to capture the culprit. Nothing has been said or confirmed, but the smell and dampness in many areas has dissipated, so most of us feel the culprit has stopped their sick fettish or is no longer with the company. I wish they would turn off the annoying cameras.
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:35 PM   #7
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We have security cameras at the newspaper where I work, but we all got an e-mail telling us when and where they were going in, and they aren't hidden cameras. They are out in the open, and in open spaces like the newsroom and the breakroom, not the restrooms (unless there's a few they "forgot" to tell us about...)
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Old 09-06-2006, 10:47 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Carek1230
I wish they would turn off the annoying cameras.
You know how it goes. Once they take away your rights, they never give them back.

Something to remember the next time thinks about giving up their freedoms in the name of "safety." It should never be done lightly.


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