Sibbie Deal was an employee of the White Oaks Package Store, located in Arkansas (Twomey, 2010, pg. 631-633). The store is owned and operated by Newell and Juanita Spears (Twomey, 2010, pg. 631-633). Newell and Juanita are husband and wife (Twomey, 2010, pg. 631-633). Their residence is directly adjacent to the liquor store. On or about April 21, 1990, the liquor store was burglarized and approximately $16,000.00 was stolen. The Spears suspected that the theft might have been an "inside job" orchestrated by one of the employees of the liquor store. Both Newell and Juanita indicated in their testimony that they suspected Sibbie Deal of being involved in the theft (Twomey, 2010, pg. ...view middle of the document...
The machine would work in such a way that the persons speaking on the phone would not hear it turn on or off. There was no "clicking" sound as can be heard when an extension phone has been picked up.
The Spears had heard through the use of their recorder that Sibbie Deal sold a keg to Calvin Lucas at a reduced price. The keg had been purchased secretly by Calvin Lucas at a discounted price. After playing the tape containing the conversation of Sibbie and Mr. Atkins the Spears terminated Sibbie (Twomey, 2010, pg. 631-633). Newell Spears admits that he recorded conversations of Sibbie Deal. Juanita listened to hours of the conversations while Newell was playing the tapes. Newell testified that he listened to each tape in its entirety. Juanita testified that Newell sometimes listened to the tapes in the bathroom, but also listened to the tapes in the living area of the residence. Juanita Spears admits that she referred to the taped conversations in two conversations with Pam Whelan and one conversation with Mike Deal. Neither of the Spears took any steps to limit the extent of their intrusion on the privacy of the plaintiffs and the other individuals that were taped.
In Deal v. Spears, 980 f.2d. the 8th Circuit held that the employer violated the statute by tape recording and listening to all calls, including personal calls, even though the employer's suspicions of theft were a valid reason to monitor calls to the extent necessary to determine their nature. The "business extension" exclusion also requires that the monitoring equipment used to monitor telephone calls be standard telephone related equipment supplied by the service provider for connection to the phone system. Recent decisions have excluded phone monitoring equipment that was not normal telephone equipment neither obtained, nor installed by a standard service provider.
In Deal v. Spears, the 8th Circuit did not uphold an employer's right to intercept employee’s telephone calls under the "business extension" exception when it found the employer purchased a recorder at Radio Shack, privately connected the recorder to an extension phone line to automatically recorded all conversations. Since the recorder installed did not qualify as normal telephone equipment, the exclusion to the Act did not apply.
Case Study Questions
Question 1: It is not unlawful to monitor the telephone conversation of an employee if the employee has given prior consent in this case?
Employer monitoring of employee phone calls can be accomplished without fear violating the Federal Wire tapping Act if consent is established (Twomey, 2010, pg.629). Consent may be established by prior written notice to employees of the employers monitoring policy (Twomey, 2010, pg.629). It is prudent as well for the employer to give customers notice of the policy through a recorded message as pat of the employers’ phone answering system (Twomey, 2010, pg.629). To qualify, consent may be expressed, as in a...