On December 30, 2014, former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a revised version of an eavesdropping statute that the Illinois Supreme Court had struck down as unconstitutionally overbroad last March. Under the revised law, it is a criminal act to record a private conversation or to intercept, record, or transcribe a private electronic communication without the consent of all parties to the communication. The law defines private as any oral or written communication between two or more people in which the parties have a “reasonable expectation” that the communication will remain private. Previously, recording anyone in Illinois (even in public) was illegal without permission.
Employers should implement policies prohibiting nonconsensual recording of private workplace conversations and beware of taping interviews, telephone conversations, investigatory interviews, disciplinary meetings, or any workplace conversations—even for legitimate business reasons—if consent of all parties is not obtained or there is an argument that the communications being made are private. Employers are encouraged to work with legal counsel to ensure their policies and practices do not conflict with National Labor Relations Board rules by restricting employees’ right to record non-private conversations in the workplace. Also, employer policies relating to employee use of company email systems need to ensure that employees do not have a “reasonable expectation” in the privacy of personal communications sent over those systems.