News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2005


Brewer should have told workers of hidden cameras

It is a shame that several Anheuser-Busch employees may return to work after hidden cameras caught them smoking marijuana, sleeping on the job and urinating on the roof of a company building.

An appeals court last week ruled that the brewer committed an unfair labor practice when it installed the cameras before consulting the employees' union. The decision means the five employees captured on film smoking marijuana in a break area, who were subsequently fired, may ask the National Labor Relations Board to give them their jobs back.

That would be a travesty. There is no debate about the employees' unacceptable (and reprehensible) behavior. The only squabble centers on the methods the brewery used to discover their misconduct. The NLRB has long allowed hidden cameras in the American workplace. It has, however, rightly insisted that employers notify workers of their presence — but not necessarily their location.

It will be unfortunate if the board forces Anheuser-Busch to reinstate these workers. The company should have known better than to place the cameras without notification.

The company should insist the workers, if re-hired, urinate in a different location — in a plastic cup to be sent off to a lab for testing.

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