Is It Ever OK to Install a Security Camera in a Restroom?

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Legal expert Ken Kirschenbaum says every rule has exceptions, and there can be unique applications where video surveillance cameras in bathrooms are needed.

The expectation for privacy in a bathroom is pretty universal. As such, installing security contractors know that they should not install a video surveillance camera in a home’s bathroom or a commercial restroom. Right? Maybe not.

According to SSILegal Briefing” columnist Ken Kirschenbaum, there might be very unique circumstances where it is OK to install a security camera in a bathroom.

“Certainly, there are hard core lines which should not be crossed, rules that can never be broken, but, for every rule there is probably an exception,” he says in response to an inquiry from an integrator who was requested to install surveillance cameras in the bathroom of a drug-testing facililty. “Bathrooms are universally considered an area where privacy is expected.  One does not expect to be spied on in a bathroom.  Audio and video interception and recording have no place in the bathroom.”

He continues: “I was about to use a nursing home or hospital bathroom as an example where monitoring may be necessary, but even in those that I have seen there is, at most, a pull cord for emergency notification. That is really not enough in some circumstances. Some patients may need to be under surveillance at all times, even in the loo.

“That brings us to the drug testing clinic. While we all have been asked for urine samples at our doctor’s office and offered a private bathroom, privacy may actually defeat the purpose of drug testing. I suppose someone could be searched before being permitted to go into a private bathroom, but that search would require consent; the same consent that would be required to video someone in the bathroom.”

Unless there is a local statue that strictly prohibits the installation, Kirschenbaum believes there are certain circumstances where video can be in the bathroom under very limited conditions.

Even then, most of those statutes are targeted at the end user, not the installation company. He says the integrator needs to get assurances from the client regarding the intended use, and it may not be a bad idea to get something in writing from the customer that absolves you of liability.

This article first appeared in SSI sister publication CEPro.

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