Surveillance video law: How do we comply?

Q. We have surveillance cameras in several locations in our workplace that record activity, but no sound. The images can be viewed over the Internet by supervisors and HR personnel who have the password to the site. What should our privacy and electronic communications policy say about access to the camera feed? — C.K., Wisconsin

A. Employers can reduce their liability risk by providing formal, written notice to employees that they are subject to surveillance cameras in the workplace. You should clarify the employees’ expectation of privacy in the workplace. For example, the policy may include where the surveillance cameras are located and the reasons the surveillance cameras will be viewed.  

To answer your specific question, that same policy should make clear that viewing the surveillance cameras is limited only to authorized personnel—including supervisors and HR personnel—who have a legitimate business reason to view the video. Also, make sure those authorized personnel view the surveillance video in a private area so others won’t be able to view it.

Publicize and distribute the policy to all employees. Require employees to sign a form acknowledging they are aware of the policy. Finally, make sure you comply with any state law regulating the use of video surveillance in the workplace.