Realizing your privacy has been violated can make a victim feel powerless, vulnerable, and angry. These are all valid feelings. You have a legal right to privacy in places that should be private such as restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and similar facilities. Restroom hidden cameras are never acceptable under any circumstance and violate both New Jersey civil and criminal statutes, as well as federal laws regarding privacy. Keep reading to learn more about your options to seek justice and compensation.
Your Right to File an Invasion of Privacy Claim
According to New Jersey law, being videoed or watched through restroom hidden cameras is an inappropriate privacy violation and constitutes a civil lawsuit. You have the right to seek actual damages, attorney fees, and punitive damages. The court also has the ability to issue any other equitable damages they deem appropriate. Your attorney can help you file the necessary paperwork, gather evidence, determine the value of your case, and represent you during trial or settlement negotiations.
Invasion of privacy is also either a third or fourth-degree crime depending on the details of their actions under the law. A criminal case is handled by a prosecuting attorney who can seek justice in the form of penalties such as fines, incarceration, and labeling the defendant as a sex offender. Civil and criminal cases happen through their respective court systems and are not dependent on one another.
What Constitutes an Invasion of Privacy?
In New Jersey, an intrusion on seclusion claim is a form of invasion of privacy when someone intentionally intrudes on the seclusion or solitude of another person. The intrusion does not have to be physical. In this case, it should be clear to a reasonable person that using the restroom is generally a time when someone has an expectation of solitude or seclusion. In order to have a valid invasion of privacy claim for restroom hidden cameras, these are the legal elements that must exist.
Intentional Invasion of Privacy Without Permission
The defendant must have intentionally invaded the private affairs of the plaintiff without authorization. In order to install the camera, the defendant would have had to physically enter the property and install the device. Even if they were legally permitted to enter the restroom under normal circumstances, entering with the intent of privacy violation is considered a trespass.
Offensive to a Reasonable Person
The invasion of privacy must have been offensive to a reasonable person. This requires more than just discomfort or embarrassment. In the case of a restroom camera, it is reasonable to believe that this intrusion would be offensive, especially if the camera is installed in a way to capture images of the plaintiff using the facilities or unclothed.
The Matter Was Private
The matter that the defendant intruded upon must involve a private matter. New Jersey law does not allow cameras in restrooms, locker rooms, or dressing rooms specifically in these areas where privacy is expected.
Mental Anguish or Suffering
The intrusion must have caused mental anguish or suffering to the plaintiff. This can include feelings of shock, frustration, embarrassment, and a range of other emotional states persisting long or short-term. Some victims may develop a distrust of public places or suffer from post-traumatic stress and anxiety because of the intrusion.
Recent Cases Involving Restroom Hidden Cameras in New Jersey
In the not-so-distant past, obtaining high-tech surveillance devices was much more complicated and strategic. Today, with a few button clicks, anyone can obtain professional equipment at a reasonable cost. One of the downsides of improved systems and accessibility is that invasion of privacy is easier to achieve and more difficult to detect. Sadly, this occurs more often than most people think. Here are a few recent cases that occurred in New Jersey.
- In 2023, a man in Monmouth County was accused of hiding a cell phone in a laundry basket of a family friend to record them using the toilet and shower. One of the recorded residents was 16 years old.
- In 2023, the Newark FBI issued a statement that hidden cameras in the bathrooms at Camp Winnebago in Rockaway and at Camp Allamuchy in Stanhope from 2019 to 2022.
- In 2020, a contractor was accused and admitted to planting hidden cameras in the bathrooms of at least two families he worked for.
- In 2021, a martial arts gym owner in Warren Township was accused of placing a hidden camera in the bathroom of his martial arts gym.
- In 2019, a camera was found taped to the urinal in the bathroom of a national human resources company in Iselin.
- Also in 2019, a man in Newton admitted installing a hidden camera in his neighbor's bathroom in hopes of videotaping a 13-year-old nude.
- In 2018, a Gloucester County dentist was accused of hiding a camera in his employees’ bathroom.
- In 2015, a hidden camera was discovered by a child in a diner bathroom in Montclair. The employee who placed it there had been working at the diner for three weeks prior to the discovery of the camera.
Unfortunately, this is not an extensive list and there are countless other incidents of restroom hidden cameras that are brought to light in New Jersey every year. Having had this experience yourself, you may find yourself leery of public restrooms, if not your own as well. Although what has happened to you can never be undone, the anxiety you may be feeling is, in fact, compensable.
Choosing an Invasion of Privacy Lawyer in New Jersey
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our award-winning team knows what it takes to succeed at the negotiation table and in the courtroom. We have years of experience helping victims obtain justice and compensation for damaging experiences at the hands of others. We have obtained millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Let us help you hold the wrongdoer accountable for this unthinkable violation of your privacy. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation case consultation.