Can hidden tape recordings be used against your employer?
If an employee decides to hide a tape recorder to capture meetings between themselves and their employer or to record conversations or comments can this evidence be used against the employer in a tribunal claim?
In the recent case of Vaughan v London Borough of Lewisham the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that covert recordings may be allowed as evidence in employment tribunal proceedings as long as they are relevant and clear to the tribunal.
Ms Vaughn upon her dismissal brought a claim for discrimination (amongst other claims) against the London Borough of Lewisham (amongst others). She made an application to rely on the 39 hours worth of covert recordings of conversations between herself and managers and colleagues as evidence.
At first instance an employment tribunal dismissed her application for permission to rely on the recordings in support of her claims.
The EAT upheld that decision on the basis that she had not produced either the recordings or transcripts of the recordings that were relevant to the application. Without these the tribunal could not find them relevant. The EAT however stated that recordings whilst they may be ‘very distasteful’ can be relied on as evidence.
Should an employee wish to use covert recordings as evidence against their employer at a tribunal then they must be sure that the recordings are clear specific to the claim they are making and accurately transcribed.
Author: Nicola Williams