Legal news and tips for employees, by Law Office of Eugene Lee

Can I Tape Record My Boss?

taperecorder1.jpgHere’s a question I hear every now and then from clients. The answer is: generally, no, you can not legally tape record conversation with your boss or anyone else without their permission or consent. In other words, you can’t do what the FBI does on TV when they put a wire on a snitch and the snitch then tries to trick an unsuspecting mobster into making a damning confession. Why can the FBI while you can’t? They have a warrant . . . or so they should, anyway.

AN IMPORTANT BUT: if you and other person(s) are having a conversation “in a public gathering or in any legislative, judicial, executive or administrative proceeding open to the public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded”, then tape recording is permitted, even without the knowledge or permission of the other participants in the conversation.

California Penal Code sections 631 and California Penal Code sections 632 make it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and/or 1 year in state prison. Also, any illegal tape recording you make can not be used as evidence in a court of law. I have heard of instances where illegal tape recordings were used in court to impeach, i.e., to show someone is lying or saying something contradictory, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.

For all you wanted to know about tape recording someone, go to “Can We Tape?: A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C.” Here is their website.

  • Debelle

    If my boss meets with me in a public space, such as Starbucks or Barnes & Noble, then it is legal to record the meeting?

  • need to know

    How about if your boss tells you to commit fraud and I caught him tape. How about if your boss tells you that his boss has been trying to fire me.How about if my boss is just gunning for me and I need proof because hr is in favor of my boss and not bias how bout if my boss tells an employee that im a dick

    • Eugene Lee

      Illegal tape recordings may still be admissible as evidence to prove someone is lying, under certain federal court decisions. However, it remains a criminal misdemeanor under California law and carries a possible jail term and criminal and civil penalties. You will really want to consult with a civil and/or criminal attorney about your question. Best of luck with your claim.

  • Vanessa Alexis Smith

    So what if I pull out my phone and tell him he is be recorded in the middle of him abusing me or other employees???

  • Chris

    Is this really just? If someone is being, extremely, verbally abuse then he/she should have the right to record it.

  • Darren Chaker

    The law is the law so it is improbably the tape recording would be allowed. Likewise, it may appear as a set up since a jury may not know what else was said prior to the boss being taped, or in what manner he/she was provoked. Darren Chaker

  • Los Angeles Lawyer

    Excellent advice, It’s something that individuals should be very careful of. It’s often times not worth the risk of getting in trouble to prove a point in the court of law.