No matter what kind of lawsuit you are looking to file, the most important element of your case will always be evidence — do you have any and how strong is it? Regardless of whether you are involved in a discrimination case with your employer or a case against the police, your cell phone is often your best defense. You always have the power to pull it out and start recording conversations or situations if you think something illegal is happening or about to happen. Most of the time, you are within your rights to do so.
The best kind of evidence
Discrimination lawsuits are some of the hardest to win because they often rely on how conduct by an employer is interpreted. Sometimes an employer’s specific language, tone, or comparative actions are key to understanding how something said or done is discriminatory. Context is often key. To prove that something illegal actually took place, you need to have solid evidence that you were treated differently because of your protected class status. And you want that to be clear. The best kind of evidence you can have is video or audio evidence. It’s difficult for someone to deny something or say that it wasn’t meant the way you interpreted it when you have a recording of the activity in context. In a time when pretty much everyone has a portable video camera and audio recorder in their pocket, it has become much easier to prove illegal conduct through records like audio and video evidence.
Recording conversations and the law
Recording conversations legally is pretty easy in Colorado. Colorado recording law stipulates that it is a “one-party consent state.” What that means is that only one party to a communication needs to be aware of a recording in order to lawfully consent to the creation of the recording. In Colorado, it is a criminal offense to use any device to record communications whether it’s wire, oral or electronic without the consent of at least one person taking part in the communication. … “One party consent” means that in Colorado, you are legally allowed to record a conversation you take part in.” (recordinglaw.com) Now, if you are in a situation where you are trying to record other people where you are not involved in the conversation, it’s only legal if they are in a public place — and therefore have no reasonable expectation of privacy — or if you make it known to at least one of the participants that you are recording. Otherwise, it’s considered eavesdropping.
Recording conversations in the workplace
Under many circumstances, the workplace is considered a public place. However, eavesdropping laws are serious business. So we do not recommend recording if you are not a party to the conversation, without consulting a qualified attorney first. However, most conversations you are aware of probably involve you, so most times recording conversations and/or phone calls with your employer (or whoever is discriminating against you), is fair game. Thus, recording your boss at work without him or her knowing is sometimes the best way to legally obtain critical evidence. Circumstances may only practically allow you to get audio evidence with a phone recorder turned on in your pocket or purse, but it still can provide solid evidence and can help your case. If problems are arising during group meetings, and you are part of those meetings, it is also likely legal for you to record those too. Unless your company has legal rules against it, it’s fine in most cases as long as you aren’t planning on doing anything illegal with the recordings, like blackmailing someone or selling company secrets. And if you want to be 100% sure that your recording will be legal, simply start recording and immediately say, “Do you mind if I record this?”
Company policies regarding recording
It is important to be aware of any company policies that may prohibit recording in the workplace. There may be legitimate security or privacy reasons companies prohibit recording in certain areas. Violating legitimate company policies could inadvertently place you in hot water. However, some company policies that prohibit recording may be illegal and/or unenforceable. In 2015, for example, “the National Labor Relations Board ruled that blanket no-recording policies by employers violate workers’ right to engage in ‘concerted activity’ about the terms of their employment.” You should consult an attorney to help navigate nuances in this area.
What to do next?
If you feel you are being discriminated against at your job, it is important to gather and save evidence that can make a difference. That can often involve audio or video recordings. After that, you need to find an attorney who is experienced in fighting workplace discrimination. Call the Civil Rights Litigation Group at 720-515-6165, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation with us today. We’ll aggressively fight in court and make sure your rights are protected and you are treated fairly.