General Question

chicklit's avatar

Can lawyers do this?

Asked by chicklit (215 points ) December 26th, 2012

Someone I know is suing their former employer for wrongful termination. I don’t know too much about the details, but apparently her lawyer called her to tell her that the employer had hired someone to follow her as she went about her day: in public and even when she was in her house. She had no idea this was happening, and was shocked when she found out about it. Is this legal (we live in California)? I just feel like this is a violation of privacy.

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8 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

There are some rules that allow surveillance, and I believe it depends on staying on public property, and no tresspassing. Anyone who is out in public does not have an expectation of privacy.

Taking pictures of the inside, through a window or door, would not be allowed.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I know they often do this to prove the ex-employee is not quite as disabled as they claim.

At a company I used to work for, they would send a nurse to periodically check. One time she found a guy (supposedly disabled and claiming disability) up on his roof just starting a new roofing project.
Unbelievable!

JLeslie's avatar

Was she being followed after they terminated her? Or, they terminated her after following her because she was not working while putting those hours down as work hours and being paid for it?

California tends to have a lot of laws favoring employees compared to other states. If you google labor laws California probably there is an 800 number to call to get advice.

If she was not doing her job when she said she was, then it is like stealing to get paid during those times.

CWOTUS's avatar

Your question is very confusing to me.

In the first place you ask “Can lawyers do this?”, and so far the only thing that a lawyer has “done” is to inform his client about an action taken by a former employer. So that’s puzzling. I’m suspecting that you’re really asking “Can employers do this?”, meaning the surveillance, because lawyers can certainly advise their clients.

After that I’m wondering when the surveillance occurred, whether it was pre-termination or post-termination (related to the filing of the lawsuit, perhaps?), and that might have a bearing on the response.

Finally, I’m wondering why the employer chose to investigate the employee (or former employee), because this has a bearing on the whole scenario. But that’s not presented, either.

I’d love to answer the question, and I have some experience with employees trying to chisel workmen’s comp and “disability” benefits out of unwitting employers, but I’d like to see clarification of the question first.

bkcunningham's avatar

I agree with @CWOTUS. The question is very confusing.

wundayatta's avatar

It is legal to hire someone to follow another person. So long as the follower does not go on private property. That would be breaking and entering, and would be quite illegal, if discovered and prosecuted.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, an employer can have someone followed. Especially if there is suspicion of acting against the interests of the company.

For that matter, I could have YOU followed (or follow you myself) – it’s totally legal as long as I follow the laws and am not threatening to you.

Isn’t America great? Free to be followed… Free to buy as many guns as you want…. but not free to drive without a license.

Jeruba's avatar

There’s some skill involved in driving. How much skill does it take to be followed or to make a purchase?

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