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    Los Angeles Times: California court rules employer did not violate workers’ privacy

    The Los Angeles Times reports that the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously (pdf) on Monday that “a Pasadena employer that installed a hidden camera in an employee office did not invade the workers’ privacy because the camera was turned on” after work hours.

    Abigail Hernandez and Maria-Jose Lopez, who filed the lawsuit, said they were stunned and upset when they discovered a hidden camera in the office they shared while working for Hillsides Inc., the operator of a residential center for abused and neglected children in Pasadena.

    Hernandez said she changed her clothes in the office at the end of the day before she went to the gym, and Lopez said she sometimes raised her shirt to show Hernandez how her body was recovering after pregnancy.

    The court said it understood why the women were upset: “We appreciate plaintiffs’ dismay over the discovery of video equipment — small, blinking, and hot to the touch — that their employer had hidden among their personal effects in an office that was reasonably secluded from public access and view.”

    However, the court stated, “Privacy concerns are alleviated because the intrusion was ‘limited’ and no information about plaintiffs was accessed, gathered, or disclosed. […] The video equipment was rarely activated and then only at night, when plaintiffs were gone. There was no covert surveillance of them behind closed doors.”

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