Catching “wrong-doing” on video at work

Video in the workplace, good or bad?
Video in the workplace, good or bad?

I read an interesting post by David Kluft, an attorney out of Australia. His post, Digilante Justice: Defamation By Camera Phone, dealt with incidents on the streets that are videoed and posted on social media. Sometimes what the person with the camera thought was wrong-doing was indeed not, but by posting it to social media the damage is done. The number of incidents is rising and the power of video is becoming apparent. His article made me think about this happening at work.

Videos of wrong-doing at work

Imagine an office situation where some alleged sexual harassment is occurring. For argument sake I will assume the tried and true stereotypical definition of sexual harassment with a male supervisor and a female worker. There are a number of scenarios where this supervisor’s behavior could be caught on video. The harassed employee could film the encounter herself, surreptitiously. That would present strong evidence to be presented to HR. A coworker, alert to the situation could film the encounter, also providing strong evidence. But what if the coworker had misinterpreted the encounter and in reality there was no harassment going on? To exacerbate the problem the coworker now posts the video to social media branding the supervisor as a harasser. What do you do then? In the world of the Internet once “the cat is out of the bag” it is very often impossible to recover.

What to do?

To me this can be a vexing problem. The issues involved include:

  • It would be nice to have evidence, but not false evidence
  • Do you allow people to use video at work? At some levels prohibiting video could be construed as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, after all a harassing supervisor is part of working conditions and complaining about working conditions is a protected right
  • What do you do to an employee who posted the video? Even if the behavior is real wouldn’t you like an opportunity to deal with it internally and not in the court of public opinion?
  • Can you ban use of personal devices during work hours in this era of BYOD?

I am not an attorney, although I did stay at a Holiday Inn … well never mind. I don’t really know the legal answer to this. If any attorneys would like to weigh-in on this I am sure we would like some words of wisdom. Or if you are an HR pro and have dealt with this how about telling us what you have done. Leave a comment below.
Photo by Ambro

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