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Video Surveillance in the Workplace

Should an employer be allowed to conduct video surveillance of its employees in the workplace? No, say employees, who feel that such surveillance violates their right to privacy. Yes, say employers, who argue that employees have no right to privacy in the employer's workplace, and the employer's need to prevent misconduct and maximize productivity outweigh the privacy interests of employees. This paper will examine this question, focusing on the current state of the law (both federal and state) and the continuing political and moral debate among labor and business groups.

Employers utilize video surveillance for a variety of reasons. Situations that require scrutiny include suspicion of drug use, conducting personal business on company time, revealing trade secrets, surfing the Internet, and harassment issues (sexual and otherwise). For example, an employer could institute surveillance to ensure against a ôhostile workplace,ö one of the causes of action under a sexual harassment suit. Similarly, surveillance could be used to ferret out instances of racial discrimination committed by employees but actionable against the employer. Employers in heavily regulated industries, such as nuclear power plants, also utilize videotaping to demonstrate compliance to federal authorities (Hymowitz 1).

More common, however, are instances where employers utilize video surveillance as part of an effort to increase productivity. Ironically, video surveillance may result in reduced productivity, according to one researcher. The preliminary findings of Carl Botan, a professor at Purdue, indicate that employees who know they are being monitored ôhave less of a sense of control over their workplace experiences than non-monitored workers and that can undermine confidence and quality of work life.ö Moreover, the surveillance creates the belief that the employer is more interested in quantity than quality, so employees produce reams of appar...

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Video Surveillance in the Workplace. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:08, April 21, 2019, from