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.

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13 Responses to Can I Tape Record My Boss?

  1. Next time I am at a Dodgers game if there is any sound recording they must shut it off. I DO NOT CONSENT. And I don’t consent to pictures either.

    • Read the back of your ticket and/or the signs posted around the ballpark to the effect that you’ve waived those rights by attending the game.

  2. What if your workplace has recording equipment throughout the facility and has a notice at the entrance that states the property is protected by electronic surveillance?

  3. 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

    • 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.

  4. 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???

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

  6. 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

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Law Office of Eugene Lee
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Law Office of Eugene Lee
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