What you should know about eavesdropping laws

| Sep 19, 2019 | Firm News |

Some people face discrimination because they decide to report wrongdoing in their workplace. But without evidence, a superior may sanction the reporting worker on the grounds of making false accusations. Knowing this, some Michigan employees try to gather evidence that improper activities are occurring. In doing so, workers should be aware that they can run afoul of other laws if their activities infringe on the privacy of others.

As part of gathering evidence of illegal activities, workers may save a number of important documents, such as emails, texts, and performance reports. Some employees go even further and tape phone calls or other audible conversations. The problem is that taping the wrong parties can violate eavesdropping laws, including one Michigan has on the books. By violating it, you could put yourself in danger of legal penalties.

Channel 17 out of western Michigan ran a report explaining how the state eavesdropping law works. Michigan is considered a one-party consent state, meaning that a person that is a participant in a conversation is able to record that conversation. However, a person that is not a party to a conversation cannot record it without consent from any of the participants. So deliberately placing a recording device near unaware parties and recording what they say could land a person in legal trouble.

There are also federal eavesdropping laws to be aware of. Per Chron.com, the Federal Wiretapping Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act makes it a crime for people to record communications through electronic or oral means or over the wire unless one person who is a party to the communication has allowed the communication to be monitored. Businesses are also excepted from this law if they monitor business communications with telephone extension equipment.

The complexities of eavesdropping laws can be tough for an employee with no legal background to navigate through. Still, if you suspect there is illegal activity at your workplace, you should know your legal options to gather evidence, which a professional attorney can assist you with.