The Teamsters union says it will file a lawsuit against Consolidated Freightways for invading employees’ privacy rights at CF’s Mira Loma, CA, terminal.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigated the terminal on Sept. 10, after a hidden camera was found behind a mirror in an employee bathroom. Two more mirrors were subsequently found in another bathroom.
The case has been turned over to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution.
“If we did file anything, it would only be for a misdemeanor,” said Tim Schaaf, an attorney with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. “We’re getting ready now to determine if there was any criminal activity.”
CF spokesman Michael Brown said the cameras had been installed “around the end of last year or the beginning of this year” to step up security at the terminal — the Menlo Park, CA-based company’s largest in the country — to combat increasing theft and drug problems.
Brown said the cameras were installed with the assistance of private security consultants, with attention given to bathroom privacy.
“We don’t feel the surveillance violated reasonable expectations of privacy,” he said. Brown added that warnings are posted at the terminal that cameras are in use.
But upset employees, most of whom are represented by Local 63 of the Teamsters union, feel the company has gone over the line in its zealousness to curb drug activity.
“This is not a drug issue,” said Michael Myers, an attorney retained by the Teamsters. “There are lots of other people involved besides terminal employees — ‘third-party’ people such as customers, salespeople and out-of-state truckers.”
Myers claimed the penalty for spying on people with cameras and microphones is up to $5,000 for each time someone is filmed.
Electronic surveillance in the workplace is not uncommon. In May, an American Management Assn. survey found that 35% of major U.S. companies keep tabs on employees by recording their phone calls or voicemail, checking their computer files and e-mail or videotaping their work.