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Joseph
Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5208
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I was brought into an office yesterday at my place of employment

Customer Question

I was brought into an office yesterday at my place of employment (I am an executive chef at a large corporate facilty) and told that a gentleman was here to see me regarding new business pratices. Instead he began questioning me about loss and theft. I asked who he was and was informed he was hired to investigate allegations that I had taken food from the building and that this was seen on a video camera. I explained I am a chef and would most certainly take foods from the building as it was for catering. He asked if I ever used the kitchen to cater something personal I said yes, I had but did purchase my own foods. He asked if I used any items from the kitchen and I said yes, probably some salt, pepper four small items. He asked me to put a value to it and I said maybe 10 - 20 dollars. I also told him I had brought items for home, belongling to me to use in the kitchen when we were out and never looked for reimbursement. Finally he asked me if we took home leftovers and I said yes - my employees are not given lunch but are forced to have food payroll deductions so I let them take items home as well as my manager. He explained this was stricly forbiden under company policy and stated in the company handbook. I told him I never got a handbook and was not made aware of these polices. He asked me to write and sign a statement and i complied. Three hours later I was told I am suspended from work with pay pending an investigation. Do I have a right to see these videos? Should I have know I was being filmed? If my manager took part in all this why isnt she also being accused of anything? What are my rights?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.


I regret to have to inform you that your rights in this situation are very limited.



Unless you have an employment contract with your employer or a member of a union, you are an at-will employee.

As an at-will employee, you can be suspended or terminated from your job for any reason (even a bad or false one) at any time with or without any prior notice.

This stems from the employment at-will doctrine, which is codified in California Labor Code Section 2922, and states:

"An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at
the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a
specified term means an employment for a period greater than one
month."

--Do I have a right to see these videos?

Due to the employment at-will doctrine, you don't have a right to see the videos in question (as you would in a criminal case) since you do not have due process rights when you are being investigated by an employer.

--Should I have know I was being filmed?

Although California has a constitutional right to privacy that restricts people from being recorded without their consent it is subject to whether or not you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

California courts have held that since the expectation of privacy is substantially reduced in the workplace, so your employer does have the right to record you even without your consent in public places of employment.

It would be illegal for an employer to set up a camera in a bathroom or private office without notification, in a kitchen that has many employees and lots of walk through traffic, there wouldn't be considered a reasonable expectation of privacy. Due to the lack of a reasonable expectation of privacy, your employer wouldn't be legally required to inform you you were being recorded.


--If my manager took part in all this why isn't she also being accused of anything?

If your manager was involved, he definitely SHOULD be accused of something. However, unless you are being treated differently than your manager due to discrimination based on a protected characteristic (such as race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, etc.) your employer's unfair treatment of you in comparison to your manager wouldn't give you a cause of action against your employer.


I realize that the above information was not what you wanted to hear, and I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX had better news to give you (as I believe there should be greater employee and privacy protections in place), I hope you appreciate my honest and direct answers. It would unproffesional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.


Since my goal is to provide you with the best service today, please don't hesitate to ask me any follow up questions.

If you don’t have any, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work.

Thanks and best of luck!

Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5208
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Thank you - this is very, very troubling and so hard for me to understand. I appreciate your input.

Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service!

Please contact me on JustAnswer should you have any further legal issues.

You can contact me by placing ‘To Joseph’ at the beginning of your question and/or requesting me directly in the California Employment Law category.

Thanks again and best of luck!

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Joseph
Joseph
California Employment Lawyer
5208 Satisfied Customers
Extensive experience representing employees and management