Recently we received an inquiry from a reader asking
about their employers plan to monitor their outgoing phone calls and
was this legal.
Federal laws govern telephone calls and the
employer is subject to those laws that allow employers to monitor its
employees by using a monitoring device installed by a local phone
company (U.S. S.C. Section 2510 (5)(a) and 2511). Employers are
required to do the monitoring during the normal course of business and
the monitoring must usually be limited in time and scope and must not
intrude upon the privacy of an employee.
Many employers who utilize monitoring devices do
so for the purpose of quality control and customer satisfaction. They
notify their employees that their conversations will be monitored and
that they will cease monitoring when the employee is not engaged in a
business telephone conversation. Often employers will enter into
written agreements with their employees whereby the employee is
advised of the monitoring program and the times and circumstances that
monitoring will be implemented.
Because many states have laws that also have
additional restrictions it is important that employers be cognizant of
both the federal and their state’s requirements for adopting a
monitoring system. Eleven states; California, Delaware, Florida,
Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire,
Pennsylvania, and Washington have laws requiring disclosure to
employees when their phone calls are being monitored. Many employers
utilize a beep tone to identify the fact that the employees phone
calls are being monitored prior to and during the act of monitoring.
This requirement is not present in the federal law and not all of the
state statutes. In Montana and Massachusetts the customer must also be
informed that the call is being monitored and the customer must
consent to having a third party monitor the conversation. If the
customer does not consent then the monitoring of the phone
conversation is prohibited.
Monitoring of employees phone calls is legal
under United States law as long as it only applies to business calls
and not personal calls. State law may require that employees and/or
customers be notified prior to and during the monitoring of the call
and may require the consent of all parties.
I wish you well.
information is provided as information only and not legal advice.
Legal advice should be obtained from a competent, licensed attorney,
in good standing with the state bar association.