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Omarosa recording: Don’t record at work, experts say



john kelly omarosa 4x3
John Kelly and

Drew Angerer/Getty // Drew

  • Former White House aide Omarosa
    Manigault Newman
    released a recording on August 12 that,
    she said, documented the White House chief of staff John
    firing her.
  • Workplace attorneys and human resource experts told
    Business Insider that recording at the workplace is “not a very
    good thing to do.”
  • However, it is legal in 38 states and the District of


A workplace where folks are
secretly recording conversations and meetings is “pretty far gone
and dysfunctional,” Heather
, a California-based workplace attorney, told Business

But we’ve seen it on
several occasions
in President Donald Trump’s White

Most recently,

ormer White House

Omarosa Manigault Newman

released a recording on August 12 which,
she said, documented the White House chief of staff

John Kelly


Many workplaces are now reviewing
their own policies on recording meetings and

After this whole Omarosa
incident, a lot of companies are going to be adopting new
policies on [workplace recording],” Cliff
, a Fairfield, Connecticut-based business attorney,
told Business Insider.

Across the board, lawyers and
experts recommend never recording at the workplace unless you
intend on taking your employer to court for being involved in
illegal activities.

“Surreptitious recordings in the
workplace are generally against most written policies that
companies have in place and are certainly against workplace
norms,” employment lawyer Mike
, who is a partner at Orrick, said. 

“Despite that, in our experience,
the existence of a recording has helped parties assert or defend
against employment claims that get asserted,” Delikat

Is it legal?

In 38 states and the District of
Columbia, it’s
to record conversations that you’re part of. This is
what’s called “one-party consent,” meaning at least one person in
the conversation consents to the recording.

Other states,
like California and Pennsylvania
, require “two-party consent”

 meaning everyone in
the conversation has approved the recording.

If you plan on using this
recording in a lawsuit, and you captured it secretly in a
“two-party” state, it likely wouldn’t be usable, Bussing

And in the case that you’re
taking this situation to court, keep in mind you can’t use an
edited tape, Raleigh, North Carolina-based human
resources consultant
Laurie Ruettimann

Is it common?

While recordings have become common in Trump’s White House,
workplace experts say these recordings only really pop up during
the most contentious conversations, like whistleblower cases.

Delikat said his firm usually sees unauthorized recordings from
employees who want to make a case against the company later

“We see a fair amount of them
given that we are defending companies against claims made when
individuals are trying to leverage the recording to get a
settlement or win a case,” Delikat told Business

Is it smart?

It may be legal in your state to record a conversation, but it
doesn’t mean you’ll be safe at your job if you’re recording
conversations. There may be company policies against making
secret records, and asking for permission to record conversations
communicates distrust. 

“It’s not a very good thing to do,” Ennico told Business Insider.
“You only do it in very limited situations, like in
whistleblowing cases.”

Instead, think of recording conversations as a last-resort choice
— for cases where you need to call attention to illegal behavior
like insider trading or sexual harassment. 

If there’s nothing expressedly
illegal at your company, but you find yourself secretly recording
meetings anyways, it’s a sign that something has gone

“A workplace where people have to
record each other has much deeper problems,” Bussing told
Business Insider. “It’s usually a last resort strategy where
employees feel threatened and are trying to put something on the
record to protect themselves.”

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