Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue. Nearly 40 percent of women and 14 percent of men report experiencing sexual harassment while on the job. Harassment of this nature can have far-reaching emotional and professional consequences.
However, sexual harassment is not always reported for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is that the victim may fear that they will not be believed or that they may even be blamed, as sexual harassment often occurs away from other witnesses.
If the perpetrator is well-liked or a supervisor, the victim may fear that their report will not be taken seriously, or that they themselves may be retaliated against. This leads many people to wonder if it’s possible to use secret recordings to prove such harassment.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may have considered secretly installing an audio or video recording device to capture evidence of the behavior. Catching the perpetrator in the act can help assuage any fears you may have that you will not be believed and can also prevent the need for a lengthy investigation.
But before you start installing recorders and hidden cameras around your workplace, you should consider Texas’s laws on making secret recordings.
In Texas, at least one party to a conversation must consent to the interaction being recorded before a secret recording can be made. When you are recording yourself and your harasser, this is not an issue because you are obviously consenting to the harassing interaction being recorded.
In this situation, you would not need to tell the other person that they are being recorded before legally recording what they say or do.
However, you could run afoul of Texas law if you install a secret camera or recorder and capture conversations where none of the participants know of or consent to the recording. For example, installing a recording device in the perpetrator’s office and hoping to capture evidence that they harass or abuse others would be illegal.
An exception to prohibitions on recording conversations where no participant consents to them usually exists for recordings made in a public space. This is because information shared in a public area like a cafeteria or lobby can be overheard by any passerby.
No participant in a conversation taking place in such a setting has any reasonable expectation that what they say would remain private.
Suppose that a supervisor harasses you by coming into your office during the workday and making lewd comments or suggestions to you.
Even though you might legally be able to record this interaction in your office, you will want to think twice before permanently affixing a hidden camera or making alterations to your office to accommodate a hidden recorder.
Although your intentions and motivations in this situation are understandable, your office is still property of your employer. Drilling holes in your office’s walls or elsewhere on company property causes damage to your employer’s property.
If your employer discovers the damage, they could seek compensation from you. And if the damage is extensive, you could face criminal charges for damaging property.
Although Texas’ one-party eavesdropping law makes it legal to secretly record conversations you are a part of, keep in mind that any conversation you record must involve at least one party who knows about the recording and consents to it.
This means that you won’t be able to secretly record a conversation between your harasser and someone else if neither of these individuals gives you permission to record their conversation.
If you believe your harasser might make incriminating statements in a public space at work, a strategically placed recording device might capture the evidence you need to prove your accusation. Otherwise, placing a recording device that captures interactions between you and the person harassing you is the safest course of action. Seek the counsel of an experienced and compassionate Houston employment law attorney, like Jacqueline Armstrong. Attorney Armstrong has guided many harassment victims so that they can build the strongest case and protect themselves from retaliation and further harassment. Jacqueline has taken on national companies on behalf of her clients and won. Call today or fill out our brief contact form to schedule your initial consultation.