In March 2014, in People v. Clark and People v. Melongo the Illinois Supreme Court held unconstitutional a large portion of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act (“IEA”), one of the nation’s strictest criminal eavesdropping statutes. However, on December 30, 2014, outgoing Governor Pat Quinn signed into law a new eavesdropping statute remedying what Clark and Melongo deemed unconstitutional. Prior to 2014, under the IEA, if employers caught employees recording conversations at work, the employer hardly needed a justification for employee discipline or discharge: the employee was violating the law. Thus, Clark, Melongo, and the December changes to the IEA raise questions for not only criminal jurisprudence, but also employment law; specifically workplace recording policies. Currently, although eavesdropping in Illinois is only illegal if an individual surreptitiously records a private conversation, employers may still discipline their employees for violating a company recording policy. The following Comment addresses the legality of workplace recording policies and what effect, if any, Clark, Melongo, and the December changes to the IEA will have on such policies. The Comment draws from existing case law as well as examines other state eavesdropping statutes and concludes that, notwithstanding the recent Illinois Supreme Court decisions and the December changes to the IEA, an Illinois employer may still implement a workplace recording policy and discipline employees for violations of that policy. Furthermore, when Seventh Circuit federal courts and Illinois state courts review such recording policies and discipline for violations, the courts should view such actions as legitimate and favorably uphold employer actions.
Just Because It's Legal Doesn't Mean You Can Do It: The Legality of Employee Eavesdropping and Illinois Workplace Recording Policies,
Loy. U. Chi. L. J.
Available at: http://lawecommons.luc.edu/luclj/vol46/iss4/5