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For the Record: Don't Record Without Permission

January 22, 2014

 

Many times, different areas of the law intersect. Most attorneys know just a little bit about tax law, so they can draft settlement agreements to their client's best advantage. I had a case in which I had to learn about family law and community property rules.

The most concerning employment cases, though, are those in which criminal law comes in to play.

Most of the time, when an former employee has taken a criminal act, he's unaware of it. The most common one that I see is secretly recording the former employer or other witnesses. Did you know that it can be a crime to record private conversations without the knowledge of the person you're recording?

This can be a difficult fact to swallow. Employees are rightly concerned about how they will prove their case, fully anticipating that their employers will just lie on the witness stand. So they hide a recorder on themselves, and put themselves in more hot water.

To make matters worse, the recording probably can't be used in court anyway.

Secret recordings are more subtle than some of the things ex-employees do. I've heard of people breaking and entering into their former employer to get documents, or physically attacking someone at their previous job site.

Taking any of these actions can put you and your attorney in a really tight spot. Your attorney can't allow you to perjure yourself, and so needs to be prepared to assert all of your rights, including your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. You can imagine how well that goes over while your deposition is being taken.

The long and the short of it is: don't engage in these type of self-help measures without talking to your attorney first. Your attorney knows what you've been through, and is watching out for your best interests. Help him by following his advice.

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