Can I Record My Boss?

Question of the Day - Can I Record My Boss?

We got a call today asking "can I record my boss at work?"  The basic answer in most states (including New York) is yes.  But just because it is not illegal to secretly record a conversation with your boss, that does not necessarily mean it is a good idea.

New York is a "one-party consent" state.  This means that so long as "one party" to a conversation consents to the recording, it is legal to make the recording.  So if you are having a conversation with your boss, you may record the conversation because you are the "one party" who has consented to the recording (even if your boss does not know about it).   Note, however, that you may not record a conversation that you are not a part of.

But is it a good idea?  Hard to say.  On the one hand, a recording can prove to be excellent evidence - especially in discrimination and hostile work environment cases.  People who secretly record conversations are more likely to seem at least a little dishonest.  Also, it is probably against your employer's company policy to make secret recordings, so making such a recording could provide a "legitimate non-discriminatory reason" for the employer to terminate your employment.  For a discussion on where "legitimate non-discriminatory reasons" come into play, please see this article on How Employment Discrimination Lawsuits Work.  If you are considering recording a conversation with your boss, please contact an employment attorney first.  This is a dangerous area, and you should think before you leap - those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Also, keep in mind that not every state is a "one party consent" state like New York.  In "two party consent" states, all of the participants in the conversation are required to consent to the recording.  In those states, you may not secretly record a conversation with your boss (nor anyone else for that matter).

Below is a rundown of one party and two party consent states.  If you need help, please contact us.

Two Party Consent States:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

One Party Consent States:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming