LITTLE ROCK — The House on Friday approved a bill to allow employers to sue employees or others who make and release unauthorized audio or video recordings on their premises.
In a 77-1 vote, the House concurred in a Senate amendment to House Bill 1665 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio. The bill, which passed 28-3 in the Senate on Wednesday, goes to the governor.
Under the bill, a person who knowingly gains access to a nonpublic area of a commercial property and engages in an act that exceeds the person’s authority is liable to the owner or operator of the property for any damages sustained.
That would include an employee who records images or sound and uses the material in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, captures or removes data or documents and uses them in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, conspires in the organized theft of items from the employer, or participates in an act that substantially interferes with the employer’s ownership or possession of property, the bill states.
A person who knowingly directs, assists, compensates or induces another person to engage in such acts would be jointly liable under the bill.
The law does not apply to a state agency, a state college or university, a law enforcement officer engaged in a lawful investigation or a provider of health care or medical services.
The bill is supported by the state Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the agricultural Council of Arkansas and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and Mercy for Animals oppose the bill, which they say is aimed at suppressing whistle blowers and animal-cruelty investigations.