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What are the limits of employer surveillance?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2022 | Labor & Employment Law

Modern technology offers an entity unprecedented access to monitor others. Since employers are responsible for protecting their companies’ interests, they use various surveillance techniques to help their businesses.

Employees expect a reasonable amount of privacy and should understand how far an employer’s right to surveillance extends.

Legal permissions

An employer can record anyone in the workplace as long as the company can demonstrate a legitimate reason to do so. Work agreements usually outline how a business keeps tabs on its workers, and employees sign consent forms as a condition of employment.

Security reasons are not the only motivation for capturing activities electronically. Other rationales include internal investigations as well as time and motion studies.

Use of video

Texas law does not permit concealed cameras on private or public property. Employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in locations like locker rooms and bathrooms. Employers have nearly no recourse to demonstrate a reason to film or record in such areas.

Phone and audio

Texas is a one-party consent state, so only one individual on a call needs to permit a recording. Employers may listen to business calls but may not continue listening to one they realize is personal. However, personal calls can raise problems for the employee if the business does not allow personal calls on company time. Also, an employer may monitor voice messages and even access deleted messages, depending on the circumstances.


Tracking devices are permissible in company vehicles to track speed and time at locations. In some cases, a business may attach GPS devices to employees’ personal cars when a person uses the automobile in the scope of work.

The Fourth Amendment offers protections that can limit surveillance. However, the law allows businesses to craft work agreements in a way that gives a company greater surveillance privileges.