Have you ever been tempted to, or did in fact, secretly record a conversation between you and your boss or another employee? Did you do it thinking that you were protecting yourself? The fact is that if you recorded a conversation without the other party’s knowledge or consent you have committed a criminal act in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is a “two-party consent state” meaning that, under Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act, 18 Pa.C.S. §5701 et seq., recording a telephone call or conversation without both parties’ consent is illegal. You could be subject to criminal and/or civil prosecution.
There are a few exceptions to Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act including, but not limited to: police and emergency communication systems and prison phone systems. In addition, two-party consent is not necessary if the recording was made in a public place where there was no expectation of privacy. For example, a speaker at a public event has no expectation of privacy and can be recorded.
Employers need to be careful when using video cameras. If an employer records images but no sound, that is legal. Video cameras which also record audio would generally run astray of the Wiretapping Act and be illegal in Pennsylvania.
It is important to note that not all states are two-party consent states. For example, New Jersey is a “one-party consent” state. As long as one party to the conversation consents to the recording, then it is legal. Regardless, it may not be a good idea and you should consult with an attorney.