Should I secretly tape a meeting with my employer?

You have a scheduled meeting with your employer, and it is worrying you. There is a chance you will be fired, or you have some reason to believe that something bad will happen. So you wonder whether you should secretly record the meeting. What are the legalities?

Indiana law allows you to record meetings you are part of, even without the knowledge of the other persons involved in the meeting. Just as Indiana law allows you to record your phone calls without the knowledge of the other party. In some states both parties must consent to the recording. But Indiana is not one of these states. Of course, recording someone else’s phone call or meeting is illegal. You do not commit a crime by secretly recording.

However, that is not the end of the analysis. Under Indiana common law, an employee owes a duty of loyalty to his or her employer. A court might well consider secretly recording a meeting as a breach of this duty.

Also, the employer might have forbidden this. Its handbook might well cover this situation, and not allow it. Even though almost every employment handbook I have ever read contains the phrase, “this does not create a contract of employment,” keep in mind that the rules in the handbook are an integral part of oral contract of employment.

Under either circumstance, the secret taping would be good grounds for firing. Even after the fact – meaning that if there were an allegation of unlawful termination, when the employer found out about the secret taping it could defend by saying it would have fired you had it known.

In sum, if the purpose is gathering evidence for a potential lawsuit, then I think secretly taping is a bad idea. The better course is to take meticulous notes in plain view, and then immediately confirm what happened in the meeting with an email to the employer.

As with all rules, there are exceptions. If you have some reason to believe you are about to be subjected to outrageous behavior from your employer, then this taping might be justified. Examples of outrageous behavior would include possible violence, orders to fire all whistleblowers or members of a certain race or religion, or demand for sexual favors.

If you believe such outrageous behavior might occur, you need to consult with an attorney immediately, prior such a meeting with your employer. Do not simply go in and secretly tape.