Smart phones have made it so much easier to record and secretly record conversations that many more people are doing it these days. At work, some people believe if they can record a conversation of their supervisor or others discriminating or retaliating against them that the recording will protect their job or will be strong evidence for a lawsuit. In some unusual, non-work situations, e.g. the outrageous remarks Donald Sterling made to his mistress V. Stiviano, secretly recorded conversations can cause extreme embarrassment and severe repercussions to the person who made them.
Secretly recorded conversations usually aren’t helpful for one important reason: Under California Penal Code section 632 recording a private conversation without the permission of all those involved is a crime. Section 632 also says an illegal recording can’t be used in a lawsuit. The harasser or discriminator might even sue the victim who made such a recording for invasion of privacy!
If you want evidence of illegal conduct, write it down. Keep a journal that lists the dates and time of what happened to you. Or better yet, look for evidence of the harassment or discrimination in the emails or other documents you receive. You can also complain in writing to a manager or use your employer’s complaint procedure if you think you can do so without suffering retaliation.
But unless the law changes, secretly recording a conversation may create more problems than it solves.