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ASK A LEGAL EXPERT

Are hidden cameras legal in the workplace? Add to ...

QUESTION

Recently the tool shop where I work installed a motion detector. It is actually a hidden camera. They also installed several giant digital clocks that we all suspect have hidden cameras in them. Nobody was ever told that we would be working in a monitored environment. Can the company just install cameras and monitor people without their knowledge or consent?

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ANSWER

Yes and no. If there is a legitimate concern (such as violence or recurring theft) that can be addressed by the cameras, then it may be legal to monitor staff without their consent. There are nuances to this, depending on whether it is a unionized, federal or non-union workplace but the general theme is that, with a good reason, video surveillance is legal. But without any plausible reason or the employee’s implied or express consent, then the monitoring is not appropriate.

QUESTION

I have a difficult relationship with my general manager; he is belligerent and belittling toward me, always with an audience. On several occasions he has sabotaged meetings I have chaired, for example. I honestly believe this constitutes harassment. I have expressed my disapproval of his behaviour directly to him, which seems only to exacerbate the issue. If the company had an HR department, I would turn to it for help, but no such luck. Any advice?

ANSWER

You have to determine if remaining at this job is worth the stress. Bullying and harassment can amount to a constructive dismissal; if the situation is intolerable, you could resign and sue for the same severance you would be owed if you were fired without cause. The key is that the behaviour must be more than performance management to justify your departure. Without an HR department to support you, and since your complaints made the situation worse, if you decide to leave, you have a case to pursue damages.

Daniel A. Lublin is a partner at Whitten & Lublin, representing both employers and employees in workplace legal disputes.

E-mail: Dan@canadaemploymentlawyer.com

Have a question about careers, labour law or management? Send it to our panel of experts: careerquestion@globeandmail.com Your name and address will be kept confidential.

Follow on Twitter: @danlublin

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