Bloomberg Law: Privacy & Data Security brings you single-source access to the expertise of Bloomberg Law’s privacy and data security editorial team, contributing practitioners,...
Employers in Canada may need to rethink any use of worker video surveillance given a recent ruling by the British Columbia privacy office that decried its use by a chicken processor investigating animal abuse claims, privacy attorneys told Bloomberg Law
The ruling confirms that privacy agencies in Canada generally frown on the use of workplace video surveillance, and that it shouldn’t be used as a first line of defense in addressing employee problems, the lawyers said.
The case is also important because it demonstrates that the privacy agency will address high-profile cases even if no formal complaint is filed, Eleni Kassaris, privacy and employment partner at Blake, Cassels & Garydon LLP in Vancouver, told Bloomberg Law. That should ensure that its enforcement report has an even greater impact on deterring other employers from improperly using video surveillance, she said.
“The message for employers is to react reasonably to a business problem,” Kassaris said. “You can’t skip over the steps involved with compliance with privacy laws.”
Video surveillance should only be used as a last resort, not a substitute for effective employee recruitment and training, Drew McArthur, the province’s acting information and privacy commissioner, told Bloomberg Law. The actions of the workers in this case were “egregious,” but the employer could have taken other steps, such as reminding workers of their obligations, or sending a manager to check on their behavior, before resorting to body-mounted video surveillance cameras, he said.
Employers can use video surveillance when investigating employee conduct but should only collect a small amount of information to confirm or refute charges against workers, McArthur said.
The company involved in this case ended its video surveillance of employees at the agency’s recommendation, McArthur said.
Companies need to have workplace policies and procedures in place to prevent wrongful employee conduct before surveillance is used, Tamara Hunter, privacy and litigation associate counsel at DLA Piper in Vancouver, told Bloomberg Law. Companies need to take less intrusive steps first, she said.
There are situations where targeted surveillance of employees could be appropriate, such as ongoing security or theft issues where less intrusive solutions haven’t worked, Hunter said. It may even be justified under British Columbia’s privacy law if the sole purpose is managing the employment relationship, she said.
The privacy agency also released Nov. 8 a guidance document on using workplace video surveillance.
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)