Workers Set to Sue Spying Employer

January 8, 2002 ( Employees of trucking company Consolidated Freightways are free to pursue an invasion of privacy suit against their employer, according the US Supreme Court.

In Consolidated Freightways v Cramer, workers filed suit after the company installed video surveillance cameras in bathrooms, claiming that the cameras violated their privacy and were illegal under a state law prohibiting secret videotaping.

Case History

In 1997 a Consolidated employee knocked down a mirror, revealing a camera, in the bathroom. Similar setups were found in other bathrooms.

The trucking company maintains that the cameras were installed in a bid to stop illegal drug use or sales at a shipping terminal in California. Workers were informed that they might be videotaped.


The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals had found that California state law, which makes it a crime to place a hidden camera in a bathroom, overrides the federal law on the uniformity of union-negotiated employment contracts.

Consolidated, arguing that the unionized employee lawsuit was prohibited under federal labor law, ¬†took the matter to the Supreme Court, claiming that the Teamster Union’s collective bargaining agreement provides for video surveillance, and gives workers internal channels to file grievances.