The California Supreme Court has issued its decision in Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc., finding that an employer’s placement of a hidden camera in an office used by two employees did not violate the employees’ right to privacy.  This case has been closely watched (OK, pun intended) as it worked its way through the appellate courts.  Like all workplace privacy cases in California, the case is highly fact-specific and should not be interpreted as encouraging employers to conduct clandestine surveillance of employees.

Hillsides operated a residential facility for neglected and abused children.  Plaintiffs Hernandez and Lopez were employees of Hillsides who shared an enclosed office and performed clerical work during daytime business hours.  Hillsides learned that late at night, after the plaintiffs had left the premises, an unknown person repeatedly used a computer in the plaintiffs’ office to access and view pornographic web sites.  Concerned that the culprit might be a staff member who worked with the children who resided there, Hillsides set up the hidden camera, which could be operated from a remote location at any time.  Neither of the plaintiffs was suspected of being the culprit, and the employer only activated the camera after hours when the plaintiffs were gone.  The plaintiffs’ activities were never viewed or recorded by means of the surveillance system.Continue Reading California Supreme Court: No Privacy Violation for Employer’s Placement of Video Camera in Employees’ Office