Security cameras are quickly becoming standard procedure in many small businesses.
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With more and more small business owners becoming aware of the advantages of business security cameras, it's more important than ever for entrepreneurs to understand the legal considerations involved with on-site surveillance.
Although your business is private property, there are laws that limit how you can use security cameras. Before installing office security cameras, it's important to understand the legalities that are involved.
The laws about security cameras vary by state, but for most small business owners these here are the business security camera legal considerations you need to know about.
According to U.S. law, you can legally install surveillance and security cameras in any publically accessible area of your business. In most states, you can also install hidden cameras without informing the public. So if want to hang security cameras on your showroom floor or over the cash register, you're in the clear.
However, in most states it is illegal to install cameras in places where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms – all the places where it seems creepy to install security cameras are legally off limits.
What are the gray areas regarding office security cameras?
The real gray areas surrounding business security cameras involve businesses that use visual surveillance to monitor their employees' activities. Recent legal rulings have determined that labor unions have to be notified when cameras are installed in the workplace, and unions are entitled to negotiate over the placement and number of cameras.
How can the security video be used?
Business security videos are usually admissible as evidence in court. In some states, video is legally admissible without the consent of either party, while other states require the consent of at least one party. If a customer or an employee is caught committing a crime, your business security camera video will probably be shown at the trial.
Likewise, many states allow employers to use information collected through video surveillance as a legitimate reason for terminating employment - even if the terminated employee was unaware of the camera's location.
How can I be sure my office security cameras are legal?
For your own piece of mind, talk to the experts before you purchase your equipment. Local law enforcement can tell you about the legal use of security cameras in your state, but for a more thorough analysis consult your attorney.