Is this manager being inappropriate?

It’s come to my attention that a new assistant manager is spending a significant portion of the day (hours worth) spying on staff members via the security cameras. Now the cameras are there in case there is suspected theft or they need to check something (for what ever reason) and I have no problem with that, of course.

But knowing that, while I’m sitting all alone in the office, he’s upstairs watching me makes me feel very uncomfortable. Some of the cameras are directly above where I’m working (I work with cash so that’s understandable) and I find I’m keeping my top shirt button done up because I can feel him creeping on me.

I’m planning on calling my union rep tomorrow (Monday) to find out if this is considered reasonable or harassment. This is not a casino or somewhere where their needs to be constant monitoring of the premises.

When I’ve caught him accessing the cameras on the computer, he quickly clicks off the monitor so that I don’t see what he’s doing. This is something new and not something that the manager or any other assistant managers do. He doesn’t do this when the manager is at work - only when he’s the only manager on duty.

Sounds pretty shady to me.

Sounds extremely shady to me.

Thank you. I’m very glad to hear that you both agree with me. I know that sometimes when you’re in a situation you second guess yourself and wonder if you’re overreacting. Like I said, I get why the cameras are there. If there is a situation and they need to check something I’m not bothered in the least. It’s the sitting there, watching us for hours that is making me feel really uncomfortable.

This tells me he knows it’s wrong, which tells me he can’t be trusted to do what’s right.

That’s exactly my reasoning as well.

Yep. Creepy. Tell on him.

Yes, it does sound wrong. It may be that his boss isn’t much of a manager and hasn’t specified his duties clearly enough, or given him enough real work to do, but it still sounds both creepy and a misuse of company time, money and resources, so report it.

In my experience security cameras have been used to provide me with a way to go back and check on what exactly happened when something went wrong (such as theft) or to see who is on the loading dock buzzing to get in for a delivery. If any manager working under me were actually sitting watching the monitors in real time I would question what the hell they were doing. Unless you are working in a situation like a casino or bank or a facility with extremely high security I don’t see a valid reason for this type of behavior.

Report his ass.

Not enough to say frankly. It could be for sordid purposes. Equally it could be for legitimate ones. Not enough information to say. You need to talk to your Union Rep.
If (for instance) the reason is that they are getting less cash then expected from your station, and suspect you, then frankly reporting will only put you in more trouble even if you are blameless.
Talk to the Rep. Explain your concerns. Get a reason why it’s happening. If none is forthcoming, report officially.

Big red flag right there. Others have spoken much good advice so I won’t repeat it.

There should be one more surveillance camera, aimed at that person’s monitor.

Yes, it’s creepy behavior.
But be careful.

Does this specific person have the authority to fire you?
Even if not, I assume that he outranks you, and has some ability to make your life more difficult.Does he have authority to disapprove your requests for scheduling, for vacation time, etc?

My guess: it’s creepy, but not illegal.*
So he may not get fired for it. Your complaint might only cause him to get into a bit of an uncomfortable spot with his immediate boss.
And if your complaint makes him feel uncomfortable every day, he may decide to make you feel uncomfortable , too.
Weigh all the possible consequences before you rock the boat.

(*actually, it may be a required part of his job for him to check the cameras periodically. He can claim that you are exaggerating. Do you have firm proof of how he spends his time?)

As I said, the OP should not go off half cocked. There can be multiple reasons as to why the powers that be have decided that more active monitoring is warranted.
The OP feels uncomfortable. Not unreasonably. The best avenue is to discuss with the Union Rep.

It seems inappropriate, yes, but I also wonder how you know for a fact he spends hours every day watching the monitor.

Or maybe you are just assuming this?

Add my vote to “creepy but not illegal” if it is actually that he is spending that much time monitoring the cameras that closely. While you don’t have an expectation of privacy in the workplace, it would be so uncomfortable for me to be monitored like that that I can understand your feelings.

I’d start with a simple inquiry and not an adversarial one. Asking if the increased monitoring is the result of a concern, for example, rather than “does this meet the criteria for harassment, because it creeps me out?”

May I ask what type of work you do? Is this at a place like a casino where cameras are the norm? I work in an office environment where of course we are not under surveillance, but our common areas, like the garage and certain hallways are.
It seems in my situation everyone has accepted the cameras in these non private spaces.
IMHO you cannot have live cameras without someone who ends up abusing them. The two go hand in hand. We do have an im client on our computers which tracks when we are logged on and “active” and some managers are using that as a nanny device. I hope you can sort out your situation.

In the book “Waiter Rant”, the author describes a slack period in the restaurant when he was taking a break and reading a book. The phone rang, and it was the owner demanding to know if he was paying the waiter to read. This owner apparently had a near paranoid fear that his employees were being lazy or otherwise taking advantage of him, and had a habit of remotely accessing his cameras to check up on them.

If the OP’s boss is like that, it sounds like an unpleasant place to work. If it’s just one nosy manager, the situation might be fixable. Just don’t make an individual complaint, let the union rep work on it.

I bet there’s a world of difference between his doing this because he’s too untrusting and suspicious, and because he’s looking down blouses. Is there a way to check more into this question of motivation? For example, if the system records a pattern of him monitoring locations and times staffed by young women only? If it’s the latter, he might get fired and even get into some trouble with the law, mightn’t he?

I strongly recommend you do not report this. Or if you do, make sure it’s totally anonymous. It will be trivially easy for him to come up with a plausible reason for watching the cams, including implying that he’s watching you because he feels you’re dishonest. Watching cams is likely part of his job anyway, and the company would likely prefer him to watch them more. There are a lot of downsides to reporting. The only way I can see this working in your favor if you have proof of him doing something like zooming in on your cleavage, where’s it clear he’s not viewing the cams for security reasons. But if you only have a feeling he’s watching the cams too much or watching them for perverted reasons, reporting him will likely end up affecting you in a negative way. Yes, it’s unfair, but welcome to the way the corporate world works.

If instead he starts acting inappropriately with you directly, then report that. Keep logs of the incidents for proof and I’m sure they will be much more likely to take action.