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Is It Legal and/or Ethical For an Employer to place Surveillance Cameras Inside Their Employee's "Breakroom"?
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Is It Legal and/or Ethical For an Employer to place Surveillance Cameras Inside Their Employee's "Breakroom"?

In this Employee Breakroom, no work is performed and there is no merchandise that can be stolen. This is where employees take their "10 minute breaks" and lunches.

I believe this is an invasion of privacy and disrespectful.
I am told it is legal.
Any insight on this issue would be appreciated.


I agree with you, and I have no idea why it would be legal.

Depends where you are. Law is different in every jurisdiction. In Canada, for instance, surveillance is OK as long as it is reasonable according to some sort of community standard. See http://www.stmarys.ca/academic/sobey/workplacereview/sept2004/VideoSurveillance.pdf. Means, basically, if other similarly situated employers also survey employees this way, it's OK. Surveillance is eithical if employer has reason to believe employees are stealing or otherwise engaged in criminal activity for which employer might be held liable both criminally (charges, jail) and civilly (for money dmgs).

The question in these circs is whether the harm to you as employees is overborne by employer's risk.

Best advice: Keep your public (work) life far away from your private (you at home or away from work) life. See work pals OUTSIDE the workplace ... if you must.

You have no right to privacy when you are in public...

If I were you I might casually ask my boss why there's a camera in there anyway. Maybe it's just there so if something happens (like somebody steals the coffee pot, writes on the wall, or comes in and finds the non-smoking area reeking of cigarette smoke) they can rewind a tape and find out who did it. Or maybe people had been doing that kind of stuff in the past and they got fed up and put in a camera to discourage it. Maybe if you find out they're actually not watching all the time and/or there's a sensible reason, you won't feel as harrassed by it.

John L
It may not be ethical but it is legal.

Well, they may want you to believe it is legal, but to really know I think I would have someone who knows employment work ethics, and the laws that apply to them. Now as far as being ethical I would say not, perhaps you and your fellow employees should install a video camera in your employers office and see how they like it.

george 2
employers can even put cameras in the bathrooms as long as they aren't aimed in the stalls or urinals.

In a break room, it is totally legal, and for the most part ethical, because they have the right to monitor an employee while they are on company property and time. It could be too many employees are abusing their break times, (staying in the break area too long), which means they are wasting company money, or stealing from the company.

It is an area of common occupation and belongs to the employer and there is no reasonable expectation of privacy (unlike the employee's bathroom). Since such is the case it is perfectly legal.

Why don't you call the ACLU and ask them.

The employer owns the break room, they can do what they want with it. In addition, even while on a break, employees are at work. Finally, if you are worried about it, then you must be doing something that you don't want to be seen...

If you don't like it, quit.

it is the property of the employer not yours. it is not a bathroom where you would expect no surveillance. if you are uncomfortable being viewed you must have something to hide.
you know, if you don't like it you could always quit.

100% legal.

It is a common area with no expectation of privacy.

What are you hiding? If all you are doing is taking a break, why are you worried about being watched.

Why would this be an ethical debate?

Rudy J
LEGAL and Ethical......
You leave the 'privacy' at the door when you enter the employers property, for your work shift.
The only place that deserves privacy is a restroom stall.

Besides, the break room for ten minutes needs to be monitored for those that think they deserve 15.

Brando Calrissian
Yes, If you don't like it... Work elsewhere

Just me.
You must think that you are an employee. They pay you to work there , everything belongs to them including the service you give in exchange for a salary. Basically you have no say if they monitor employees in a break room , monitor emails or recorded phone calls, on their phones.

In office install a surveillance system is mental abuse! No one can work in such environment long term are still have health spirit. This is part of the reason why violence increase in our society. People need to take out of their anger, depression and helplessness.

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