The Rio Hotel & Casino had a handbook policy that stated, “Cameras, any type of audio visual recording equipment and/or recording devices may not be used unless specifically authorized for business purposes (e.g. events).” The policy applied to the Rio’s 3,000 employees, about half of whom are represented by a union.
The National Labor Relations Board found that the ban on cameras and recording devices was unlawfully overbroad. The Board explained that employee photographing and videotaping is protected by the National Labor Relations Act when employees are acting in concert for their mutual aid and protection and no overriding employer interest is present.
The employer’s mistake in this case was implementing a ban without articulating a particularized interest that the ban would further. Employers must carefully consider whether they have a legitimate company interest that supports a camera ban, such as to protect privacy. Companies should identify this interest and identify how the policy will further this interest before implementing such a ban.