Have you ever said something to an employee you immediately regretted? Luckily, you could apologize or take it back, and hopefully all was forgotten. However, everyone now carries smartphones, with tiny recording devices accessible at all times. Is it any surprise secret recordings by employees have become prevalent, leaking from as high up as the West Wing of the White House? The rise in employee recordings presents great risks for employers, as employees could record sensitive and confidential company information and use the recorded information to gain leverage against employers. Is this practice legal in Texas?
Texas wiretapping law requires only “one-party consent” which allows the interception or recording of wire, oral, or electronic communications if one of the parties consents to recording the conversation. So long as the employee is part of the discussion or has permission of one of the parties to the conversation to record they are safe. Some professionals, such as attorneys, are bound by their code of ethics not to record conversations without the consent of the other party. While, an employee (or employer) is not permitted to microphone the water cooler and listen in on the office gossip between unknowing participants, he or she can secretly record a conversation in which he or she is participating.
An employer may include narrowly-tailored policies in its Employee Handbook restricting the ability to record conversations in the workplace, if the policy is uniformly and fairly enforced across the office. A ban on all recordings, however, has been deemed an unlawful restriction under the National Labor Relations Act. For help crafting a policy to protect your business, please contact Rosenblatt Law Firm – we promise not to record the conversation!