Illegally taped private phone conversation.

A "fellow" employee recorded a private telephone conversation I had with him after working hours. This conversation was made from my home phone to his home phone.

This "fellow" employee took the tape to the employer who then fired me because they didn't like the contents and my remarks on the tape.

Do I have any legal recourse?

1 answer  |  asked Oct 13, 2001 11:56 AM [EST]  |  applies to Illinois

Answers (1)

Aaron Maduff
Fired Because Fellow Employee Taped Conversation

You could certainly take the taped phone conversation to the state's attorney's office and ask them to prosecute the fellow employee for violations of the law. However, the state's attorney will decide whether or not to prosecute the case. If you can prove that the conversation was taped, by providing them a copy of the tape, or by showing them a letter from the employer stating that you were terminated because of comments that it heard on a taped phone conversation, they are probably more likely to prosecute the case then if you do not provide such evidence. As for the employer itself, by virtue of the tape, it has done nothing illegal (unless it was in a conspiracy with the fellow employee to get the conversation taped). On the other hand, whether you have a basis for suing the employer for terminating your employment depends upon its reasons for so doing. Employment in Illinois is generally at will. This means that you can quit at any time for any reason or no reason at all. It also means that the employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. The exception is where some statute identifies the reason as illegal. Statutes that might apply are those that address discrimination or retaliation. So now the content of the tape is very important. If for example the tape basically included a comment by you admitting to having a disability which qualifies you as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act of which the employer was not previously aware (say for example sleep apnea) then there is the appearance that your termination was the result of that disability which is illegal. Or perhaps you admitted to your fellow employee on the tape that you had filed a claim of discrimination with the EEOC under one of the various laws it enforces. Then the appearance is that you were terminated in retaliation for having so filed. So it depends in large measure what was on the tape.

posted by Aaron Maduff  |  Oct 14, 2001 09:17 AM [EST]

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