Updated on April 19th, 2023

California Workplace Surveillance Laws

One day, after lunch, Vincent goes to the employee restroom to wash his hands and prepare to go back to work. As he reaches for the paper towels, he notices something. High up on the wall, hidden in the corner, a little red light blinks. He looks closer and sees the gleam of a lens. Sick to his stomach, Vincent realizes that it’s a camera, and he is under surveillance in the restroom. In the past, his employer has mentioned his frustration with employees taking too many bathroom breaks. His boss joked that he “wonders what really goes on in there.” Vincent has a gut feeling that this is an invasion of privacy, and he contacts a lawyer.

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

Email  |  Call 888-600-8654

When Is It Illegal to Use Surveillance Cameras?

While it is common for California employers to use surveillance cameras in the workplace, certain kinds of surveillance are illegal under state law. The legality of surveillance cameras mainly depends on the location of the cameras and the purpose for their use.

Under California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC, it is illegal to put a surveillance camera in:

  • Restrooms
  • Showers
  • Locker rooms
  • Tanning booths
  • Fitting or dressing rooms
  • Bedrooms

In general, surveillance cameras are prohibited in areas where a person might reasonably expect privacy. This law applies to California employers. However, an employer can receive an exemption from these rules if he or she has a court order authorizing the use of surveillance in any of these areas.

Under the federal National Labor Relations Act, employers are not allowed to photograph or record employees participating in union or other protected activities. This includes union meetings.

It is important to note that surveillance laws do not concern only the visual. Under California Penal Code Section 632, it is illegal for employers to record audio of confidential conversations without the consent of the involved parties. Employers who use surveillance cameras with audio capability in their workplace may not be aware of this law.

When Is It Legal to Record Employees at Work?

Under California law, employers are entitled to install surveillance cameras and record their employees when the surveillance is in the interest of their business.

Specifically, this means that an employer can legally record employees in common areas and public locations in the workplace. Examples might include the break room and the corridors between offices.

When Can an Employer Be Sued for Using Surveillance Cameras?

It is possible to sue an employer for using surveillance cameras. However, there must be proof of each of the following:

  • The employer violated the right to privacy
  • The employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy
  • There was a serious invasion of privacy
  • The employee suffered serious harm as a result of the surveillance

Let’s return to our opening example. Vincent had a reasonable expectation of privacy while in the restroom. By installing a surveillance camera in the restroom, his employer has violated California Penal Code Section 647(j) PC. Vincent has every right to file a lawsuit concerning the violation of his privacy.

We want to hear your story.

2 + 4 = ?

How to call in sick to work?

When calling in sick to work, be direct and concise, stating your inability to come in due to illness. Inform your supervisor or HR the nature of your illness and when you expect to return.

Equal Pay Act: What is it?

The Equal Pay Act an employers from paying their workers less than employees of the opposite sex for similar or identical work.

Exotic Dancer License & Stripper License

It is unlawful to work as an adult entertainer without a stripper license, called a "adult entertainment permit. Therefore, knowing how to get your stripping license is necessary to work in a adult club.

Strippers Minimum Wage in California

Strippers in California must earn a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour or higher, depending on the city's minimum wage where they work.

What Is A Hostile Work Environment?

The law defines an unlawful hostile work environment to mean when a superior or coworker communication or behavior that is offensive, intimating, or discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, ethnicity, etc.

Can you take unpaid time off in California?

There is no legal requirement in California that an employer provide its employees with either paid or unpaid vacation time. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year.

DFEH Right to Sue

To file a lawsuit for discrimination, you must file a complaint with DFEH and obtain a Right-to-Sue notice.

Is It Illegal To Not Pay Overtime?

Yes, it is illegal for employer to not pay overtime because California law requires that employers pay overtime, whether authorized or not.

What Is Rate Pay Meaning?

The meaning of pay rate is the average hourly rate an employee is paid calculated by dividing the total pay for employment in a work week by the total number of hours actually worked.

California Break Laws

Under California law, non-exempt workers are entitled to two paid 10-minute rest breaks and one unpaid meal break during their eight-hour shift. 

Not Getting Paid for Work I Have Done

Workers who have not been paid for work have the right to file a claim with the federal and state Department of Labor for unpaid wages.

California Overtime Law

Under California overtime law, an employee who works over eight hours a day or over forty hours per week is entitled to overtime pay at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay.

Who is exempt from overtime pay?

As of 2023, to be exempt from overtime pay, any employees who are paid at least $62,400 per year and work are primarily professional, executive, creative, managerial, or intellectual and require the exercise of independent judgment.

Can Previous Employers Talk Bad About You?

There are no state or federal laws prohibiting what a previous employer can or cannot say about a former employee. However, previous employers are not permitted to make up lies to damage your reputation and make it difficult for you to get another job.

Can An Employer Cut Your Pay as Punishment?

Employers cannot cut hours to retaliate against employees. Cutting the hours of an employee should never be used as discipline or in an attempt to make an employee quit. 

© Copyright | Nakase Law Firm (2019)