Despite what many employees think, you may not record workplace conversations.

Illinois is one of only eleven states that require two-party consent to the recording of a private conversation.  In the rest of the 39 states, only one party’s consent is needed.  And, despite what many think, workplace conversations are often “private conversations” for purposes of the law.

I wrote about the Illinois Eavesdropping statute before and the dangers it poses to those who decide to secretly record workplace conversations.

Most of our clients who have done this (and there have been many over the years) had no idea doing so was illegal, let alone that it is criminal.  Moreover, if a client decides to file a lawsuit, a recording like this would have to be produced in discovery which means the employer would find out about it and could take legal action.  Given this risk, most employees who record conversations decide not to pursue their claims because the risks are too high.

There was a brief period of time where the Illinois Supreme Court held that the first version of the Eavesdropping Act was unconstitutional.  Googling workplace recordings can pull up some of those old articles.  Unfortunately, we have seen a recent influx of clients who do their own google research, see that outdated information and then record away!  Unfortunately, what they fail to see, is that within months after the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Illinois legislature fixed the unconstitutional issue in the statute and it is now good law again.

The moral of the story?  1) If you are tempted to record a conversation ask the other person for permission and get that permission on record; 2)  if you do not have that permission, do not record; 3) don’t do your own legal research on google.

If you have any questions about recording workplace conversations, contact one of us for help.