Omarosa Manigault Newman has a new book coming out, Unhinged, about her time in the Trump White House. I'm sure people who agree with it will proclaim it as gospel truth and people who disagree with it will cry "fake news!" That's not what you should be worried about.

Instead, let's worry about the fact that she secretly recorded meetings. 

This should be a wake-up call for every business owner and manager out there. Almost all of your employees carry smartphones capable of recording conversations. And they can do so without any muss or fuss. You wouldn't know it was happening. It's doubtful your conversations contain classified material (unless you're in government or are a government contractor), but you probably often have conversations you wouldn't like your competitors to hear. Here's what you need to know.

It's legal to have a no-recording policy.

Having a policy against recording doesn't guarantee no one will do it, but it does allow you to set a standard and give out a punishment if the policy is violated. 

You want this policy to not only cover meetings where you discuss strategy, but those when you are holding disciplinary conversations with employees. Employment attorney Jon Hyman says the NLRB recently clarified that such prohibitions against video and audio recording are presumed legal

Regardless of what your state law is, you need a policy.

Recording is often, but not always, illegal.

You shouldn't assume that state law will keep your employees from making surreptitious recordings in the office, though. You need to make it clear that they are not allowed.

You should always assume you're being recorded.

Regardless of your policies and your state laws, an unhappy employee can secretly post something on Facebook or YouTube and if they are lucky (and you are unlucky), it can go viral. A defense of yourself and your business of "it was illegal for her to record" probably won't change public opinion. 

Discipline meetings should be facts only. They should always have a witness. You should do everything in your power to remain calm. Investigations into bad behavior should always be done with professionalism. And of course, you shouldn't use any language you don't want to be shared with the whole world, even in what appears to be a private meeting.

While an illegal recording won't be admissible in court, you also have to be worried about public opinion, and once something's gone viral, all the takedown orders in the world won't stop people from knowing it.

This is something that needs to be on your mind, even if you think your business is boring and not newsworthy. It could become so over night. 

Published on: Aug 14, 2018
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