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Workplace Privacy in California: Employee Interests, Employer Rights

August 13, 2009

By Paul W. Cane and Gina Guarienti Cook

California employers sometimes feel lost in a sea of employee rights, with the employers interests held secondary (if recognized at all). The California Supreme Courts unanimous decision in Hernandez v. Hillsides, Inc. (Aug. 4), a case regarding workplace privacy and video surveillance, provides some comfort.

In Hillsides, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of an employer whose employees had sued for invasion of privacy after the employer secretly installed a concealed video camera in the employees office. The decision recognizes that employers can conduct surreptitious workplace surveillance as long as they have a legitimate business reason for doing so and properly tailor the methods and scope of the surveillance.