Nichole Brock of Exeter, New Hampshire was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor count of wiretapping when she made a secret audio recording of her boss without the boss’ knowledge. New Hampshire is one of eleven states that require two-party consent.
Trying to gather evidence to prove labor exploitation can be extremely difficult. Many of the exploited workers who contact me about receiving unpaid or stolen wages/back taxes, and taking action for other abuses often ask me, “Can I record the owner or something?”
You’ll have to check your state law. Some states permit follow the federal Wiretap Act, recording conversations so long as one party consents to the recording (that person can be you, and you don’t have to disclose the recording-in-progress to the other parties). Other states require both parties to consent, which means the other party has to a.) be informed of the recording, and b.) agree to it.
Audio recordings obtained illegally aren’t permitted to be used as evidence.
The disappointing part of this entire situation for Ms. Brock is that (if her experience is anything like the hundreds upon hundreds I hear about every year) she likely had a valid claim, and that recording likely contained proof of it, but that recording is useless now.
If you believe you’re being victimized by an exploitative salon owner, keep records. Emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and other written correspondence, when properly authenticated, can be used in court. Make sure you’re getting everything in writing and storing it somewhere safe. Know your rights, and don’t violate those of others.