Recently, violence in the State of Illinois has been a pressing issue. The crime rate rose 41% from 2021 and compared to the national average, in 2022, the Land of Lincoln reported a higher number of incidents per 1,000 people. This is the second-consecutive year violent crime rates have gone up and the third year the state reported higher rates than both the East North Central region and the US overall.
Safety demands the application of concentric circles of protection. The idea behind this in-depth defense strategy is that the security of your property gets stronger with every integration of security hardware, starting from the outer perimeter and moving inward to internal areas, where usually, the greatest protection is demanded.
A key element of concentric circles of protection is video surveillance. Especially, when the technology adopted is sophisticated, custom-built or specifically designed to address the physical vulnerabilities of your site, and utilized in conjunction with other modern solutions.
Smart, IP-based video cameras can deter, detect, delay, and even respond to crime. Moreover, footage can be a valuable source of evidence. In a proactive video surveillance system, expert operators monitor live feeds 24/7, potential suspects get identified, and crime is successfully deterred.
There is no doubt that a robust security environment includes the use of advanced cameras. However, less known is the fact that organizations must adhere to strict video and audio surveillance laws, in each state, to avoid violations of privacy and expensive penalties.
Illinois on video surveillance in the workplace
In Illinois, employers can utilize video monitoring to improve staff productivity, diminish false legal claims, or increase protection in the workplace by preventing theft, violence, or sabotage. Although cameras can be legally installed, the business reason to videotape employees must always be legitimate and clearly stated.
Typically, video monitoring is essential to support any business’ security and productivity. Likewise, there are several surveillance cameras and privacy laws that must be considered when integrating monitoring solutions to avoid the violation of any state or federal statute. Acknowledging that employees have the right to privacy and to know when they are under surveillance is crucial.
In Illinois, the below guidelines should be carefully followed to legally install and use security cameras in the workplace.
- Determine and document your business reasons for having surveillance cameras. Legitimate reasons include health, safety, theft prevention, workplace productivity, and security. If applicable, consider limiting the times during the day the cameras will be in use to achieve the specified business purpose (i.e, productivity, internal theft).
- Cameras are prohibited in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, like locker rooms or bathrooms as stated on 720 ILCS 5/26-4(a).
- Cameras should be visible and employees, tenants, and customers must be informed that there are security cameras on the premises with clear and explicit signs designating the camera’s presence. They should also be notified about video storage and reviewing policies.
- When the recording is done by hidden cameras, courts place a higher burden of proof on the employer to demonstrate that the surveillance is for a legitimate business reason. Therefore, it is advisable for decision-makers to always notify staff about hidden cameras in the workplace.
- Any footage taken must only be used for security purposes and cannot be released to any other party without permission from all involved.
The only time surveillance laws in Illinois allow a business to record someone secretly is if you have a reasonable expectation that a crime is about to be committed against you or someone in your property.
In addition, property managers must recognize that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly make a video, record, or transmit live video of another person in that other person's residence without that person's consent 720 ILCS 5/26-4. Note that “residence” includes a rental dwelling, but does not include stairwells, corridors, laundry facilities, or common areas, in which the general public has access and there is not a reasonable expectation of privacy.
IL Law imposes felony status to surveillance violations. For first-time offenders, the law imposes Class 4 felony status with consequences of 1-3 years imprisonment, probation, and fines of up to $25,000.
Second or subsequent offenses bump it up to a Class 3 felony carrying harsher punishments such as 2-5 years behind bars along with other penalties like probation, plus the same amount in fines.
Interfering with employees' rights
Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees and to refrain from such activity. Thus, it is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.
As a leader, make sure that the topic of video surveillance and its specifics are addressed as part of the collective bargaining process for unionized labor forces.
Audio recording: Illinois — an all-party consent state
Illinois is an all-party consent state that requires the permission of any individual whose voice is being recorded. Recording another individual’s words without the individual’s knowledge or consent is a felony in the Prairie State.
A person in the Land of Lincoln commits eavesdropping when overhearing or recording private conversations, without consent, and in a “surreptitious manner”. Illinois enforces its all-party consent law under its eavesdropping statute 720 ILCS 5/14-2(a)(1).
Overhearing, transmitting, or recording all or part of any private conversation, to which you are not a party, may be considered a Class 4 felony offense in IL. However, if you obtain consent from all participating parties to be recorded OR the conversation is open and obvious and takes place in an area where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, it might be legal to record it.
Further, The Federal Wiretapping Act could apply to the audio captured by Cameras as well. This is a criminal law that requires prosecution by a federal agency D. 18 U.S. Code §2511.
Generally, a secret, non-consensual workplace recording can be considered a form of eavesdropping under Illinois law. You can be charged with a crime for using an eavesdropping device to record a private conversation without consent.
The need for a license
In Illinois, people or businesses that install and maintain security systems need to be licensed. Fully licensed contractors, like Security 101, carry liability insurance and warranty all installations.
A license ensures:
- Knowledgeable installation with proper camera placement to keep your organization
secure and compliant.
- Safe installation to protect against electrical issues and camera failure.
- Recourse through your state licensing entity, if the installer does a poor job.
- Protection against scammers, fraud, and criminals who use security camera installation
as a cover.
The lawful use of video surveillance
Efficient monitoring is important to protect your employees and property. However, it is equally necessary to comply with Illinois video and audio surveillance laws in order to avoid penalties and expensive liabilities.
To ensure your organization is abiding by the law, closely collaborate with an expert security professional, competent in protecting businesses with sophisticated video surveillance technologies and who knows in depth the specific laws and regulations at state and local level in Chicago, Champaign, Springfield, Peoria, or Rockford.
Don't risk legal repercussions
Reach out to us now and schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable professionals. We will help you navigate the complex landscape of video surveillance laws effortlessly. Your business deserves the best protection!