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Audio Recording in the Workplace

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Hi. If there is a better board to post this to, let me know. I do private duty in a private home for a man in a vegetative state. I’ve always known there are cameras throughout the home. They’ve recently added WiFi booster boxes which not only enhance the video, but also added/enhanced audio which can be heard throughout the home, even our break area. I only know because the head nurse is a friend. They have not officially told anyone they’re being audio recorded and all conversation in all parts of home are now recorded and monitored. Again, video I understands, cameras are in plain view. How would other nurses feel knowing everything they say is now being recorded with the employer telling you?

I'd be po'd. What is they recorded a personal call that could prove embarrassing? What if they recorded someone swearing? What state is this, because in some states it's illegal to record people without their consent? I would definitely be telling every nurse who worked there that they're being recorded

Thanks for justifying what I was feeling. Part of me was like.....“just suck it up. If you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t worry”. Which is true but from what I understand in Ohio, the person being recorded needs to consent or signs must be posted telling us about audio. Thing is, if I speak up, they’ll show me the door.

I would quit the case.

They may feel they have a right to record; hopefully they know the laws of their state. If consent is required, I suppose in theory the employer could require that you give consent. [NAL.]

Never say anything in the workplace that you wouldn't want recorded or otherwise overheard, anyway. There's no expectation of privacy there aside from the bathroom and none of those people (patients, employers, coworkers) need to know anything that you wouldn't want recorded.

But, no. If someone meant to do this especially without being forthright about it = bye. They make their choices, I make mine.

1 hour ago, mmccool719 said:

Thanks for justifying what I was feeling. Part of me was like.....“just suck it up. If you’re doing your job, you shouldn’t worry”. Which is true but from what I understand in Ohio, the person being recorded needs to consent or signs must be posted telling us about audio. Thing is, if I speak up, they’ll show me the door.

Actually I just looked it up and Ohio is a one party state, which means only ONE person involved needs to consent. And yes, you'd probably be fired, but do you really want to keep working for someone who would do this? They're obviously looking to get people in trouble by saying something incriminating about the patient/family/agency. I would feel bad if someone said something out of frustration/having a bad day and then got fired. It could also have implications for their license.

1 hour ago, JKL33 said:

I would quit the case.

They may feel they have a right to record; hopefully they know the laws of their state. If consent is required, I suppose in theory the employer could require that you give consent. [NAL.]

Never say anything in the workplace that you wouldn't want recorded or otherwise overheard, anyway. There's no expectation of privacy there aside from the bathroom and none of those people (patients, employers, coworkers) need to know anything that you wouldn't want recorded.

But, no. If someone meant to do this especially without being forthright about it = bye. They make their choices, I make mine.

And seriously, do you know if they have a camera in the bathroom?!? No, you don't. Just something to think about.....

When you say ONE party consent......would that means one of the two parties whose conversation is being recorded would have to consent? That’s how I interpreted it. None of us consent to this.

32 minutes ago, Elaine M said:

Actually I just looked it up and Ohio is a one party state, which means only ONE person involved needs to consent.

Yes, appears that it is legal to record conversations so long as one participant (in the convo) consents. It doesn't appear that third parties can go around audio-recording others' conversations without some additional stipulations (?). That raises the question of whether this man's family member (or legal guardian or whomever set up the cameras and audio recording etc) is legally considered the "participant" (on pt's behalf) even if that person is not literally participating in the subject matter being recorded. I don't know the answer.

ETA: And none of this would seem (from this lay person's perspective) to cover the issue of audio-recording people in the break room, where neither the patient nor his legal representative are participating in anything being recorded.

A lawyer could answer all of this easily. Personally I wouldn't bother because their answer wouldn't matter.

Edited by JKL33

54 minutes ago, JKL33 said:

Yes, appears that it is legal to record conversations so long as one participant (in the convo) consents. It doesn't appear that third parties can go around audio-recording others' conversations without some additional stipulations (?). That raises the question of whether this man's family member (or legal guardian or whomever set up the cameras and audio recording etc) is legally considered the "participant" (on pt's behalf) even if that person is not literally participating in the subject matter being recorded. I don't know the answer.

ETA: And none of this would seem (from this lay person's perspective) to cover the issue of audio-recording people in the break room, where neither the patient nor his legal representative are participating in anything being recorded.

A lawyer could answer all of this easily. Personally I wouldn't bother because their answer wouldn't matter.

Yes, I'm assuming that this man's legal guardians are considered to be one party, and the caregiver is the other. So by them doing it, there's the consent of one party. However, I don't know if that's considered legal. I mean, if you want to continue working for them you could talk to a lawyer, and maybe they could notify the family it's illegal, IF it is. But then they'd probably figure out it was you. I personally would quit the case but I'd also let everyone else know, which of course could put your job there and other jobs at risk. And quite frankly I would be really surprised if the head nurse doesn't know the answer. And I'm really surprised she doesn't refuse to send people there.

I have been told point blank by a family member that they were installing cameras to record, specifically to obtain evidence for lawsuits/accusations. I wasted no time quitting that case.

And this is exactly why it is important to exchange phone numbers with other nurses working on a case. The agency certainly has a stake in not warning their employees, but there is something inherently wrong with not being upfront about telling nurses there is recording going on there. Besides looking for a new case, I would give serious consideration to whether or not I would continue to work for this agency. They are unethical.

DavidFR, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, ID, Hepatology, Occy Health. Has 35 years experience.

I am sure this would not be legal in most European countries. It is surely unethical.

I can understand that in specific cases of suspected abuse there may be legal grounds for exceptionally requesting the right to record for evidence, video or audio, but it should be a legally sanctioned exception and surely not be part of routine practice.

I felt very uneasy reading your post. I fully agree with the above poster - if you have alternative employment open to you I would seriously consider changing.

It’s not agency. I’m directly hired by the family. Some Nurses were suspicious and unplugging the “WiFi extender”. The doctor who installed and monitors actually came in and duct taped the plug to the wall and made a label saying “do not unplug” and another label on the box saying “WiFi extender”. That it is, but it also strongly enhanced the signal so it picks up EVERYTHING, even whispered convo. His excuse for recording is he is gathering evidence to record a certain nurse in order to fire her. But this has been said since last Summer so I’m guessing there’s more to this. The idea that this doctor watches/listens is rather creepy. And yes, he has the time to do so.

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

9 minutes ago, mmccool719 said:

It’s not agency. I’m directly hired by the family. Some Nurses were suspicious and unplugging the “WiFi extender”. The doctor who installed and monitors actually came in and duct taped the plug to the wall and made a label saying “do not unplug” and another label on the box saying “WiFi extender”. That it is, but it also strongly enhanced the signal so it picks up EVERYTHING, even whispered convo. His excuse for recording is he is gathering evidence to record a certain nurse in order to fire her. But this has been said since last Summer so I’m guessing there’s more to this. The idea that this doctor watches/listens is rather creepy. And yes, he has the time to do so.

Wait the doctor installed the cameras?! Oh no. No. Nope.

You have stayed there too long. The pay can’t be that fantastic or you would be content with things as they are. The client sounds somewhat off kilter. He should have fired the nurse a long time ago if he has problems with her.

2 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

You have stayed there too long. The pay can’t be that fantastic or you would be content with things as they are. The client sounds somewhat off kilter. He should have fired the nurse a long time ago if he has problems with her.

LOL, "off kilter" is an understand. The pay is excellent and I love my case and co-workers - which makes it hard because I feel literally sick knowing what I know and not being able to do anything about it unless I want to get fired.

4 hours ago, mmccool719 said:

The doctor who installed and monitors

4 hours ago, mmccool719 said:

His excuse for recording is he is gathering evidence to record a certain nurse in order to fire her

I smell a private issue between these two.

It's unclear who the employer actually is here, but it seems rather unlikely that evidence of wrongdoing is required to remove an individual from a private case.

9 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

I have been told point blank by a family member that they were installing cameras to record, specifically to obtain evidence for lawsuits/accusations. I wasted no time quitting that case.

WOW!. Good for you that that person was stupid. I hope you told the agency and all the other nurses on that case.

18 hours ago, Elaine M said:

WOW!!. Good for you that that person was stupid. I hope you told the agency and all the other nurses on that case.

At the time there were no other nurses on the case. I reported this to the agency and made clear that she used the word "lawsuit"; the agency said that basically they did not care and that I could take the work or leave it. As I recall, they didn't "have" any other cases available to me so I had to find a new employer. That is one of the agencies that is always advertising plenty of work, so I doubt they didn't have anything for me. They just didn't want to deal with somebody who would not allow themselves to be treated like a stupid sheep.