Is it illegal for your boss to record your phone calls?

Privacy Laws: Can I Record Employee's or Customer's Phone Calls?

Businessman using laptop and talking on cell phone in office
Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/ Riser/ Getty Images

You work for a company and just found out your boss has been recording your phone calls.  Can your employer legally record your phone calls without your knowledge or permission?

The answer is both yes and no.

Federal Law

  • Permits recording of phone calls and other electronic communications, but only with the advance consent of at least one party to the call.
     
  • Prohibits disclosing the contents of illegally recorded or intercepted phones calls or communications.

    State Laws

    • The District of Columbia, and 38 states, permit employers to record conversations without telling employees, but only if the employer is on the call.
       
    • California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington all require the advance consent of all parties before you can tape a phone conversation.

    According to The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, "Regardless of the state, it is almost always illegal to record a conversation to which you are not a party, do not have consent to tape, and could not naturally overhear. "

    Summary

    Before you start recording phone calls at work be sure you notify all parties involved in the conversation in advance.  To protect themselves against civil lawsuits many businesses make callers listen to a recorded message that states calls may be recorded (usually for "quality control" purposes) and requires the caller to hit a button to continue.

    Hitting that button constitutes acknowledgement and permission to be recorded.

    Source:

    "Can We Tape?" The Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press

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