What would you do if you went to the bathroom at a restaurant and found a surveillance camera?
Do you think it is within the owner’s rights to put up a camera in an area of the restaurant that has frequent vandalism?
There is an interesting debate going on in Mechanicsville, Virginia. This debate has two sides and is currently under investigation. Dennis Smith, the 55-year-old owner of a seafood restaurant, installed a surveillance camera in the restaurant men’s bathroom that was operational for two weeks this past summer.
Why Would an Owner Of A Restaurant Install a Camera?
Before we draw conclusions, let’s take a quick look at Dennis Smith’s side of this debate. Over the years of the business being open, the owner reports that he has experienced a great deal of vandalism. A recent vandalism episode caused up to $1,000 in damages. Earlier this year, Smith said that enough is enough and installed the surveillance camera.
According to the owner, the surveillance camera does not violate the privacy of anyone using the bathroom. He says this because the camera is situated in a way that it does not view the urinal or toilet. According to The Huffington Post,
A search warrant says that “the toilet and urinal are not viewable by the camera; however, other portions of the restroom are in view of the camera that would have an expectation of privacy.”
Smith addresses the issue of some of the bathroom being in the sight of the surveillance camera by saying that if the door was open, anyone in the hallway could see in those same spots. That reasoning led him to believe that he is not violating anyone’s privacy.
Smith believes in defending his property and has threatened to take the case as far as the Supreme Court if he is charged with a misdemeanor.
The camera was only installed in the men’s bathrooms and not in the women’s bathroom. Smith reports that he doesn’t get as much vandalism in the women’s as he does in the men’s and that is why he hasn’t installed a camera, yet.
The kicker? The camera itself was “damaged” – vandalized only two weeks after it had been installed by a customer who did not like it.
Currently the Hanover Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is reviewing whether or not Smith should be charged with a misdemeanor. There is a section in the state code that states that “intentionally videotaping a nude or otherwise exposed person, who hasn’t given consent, when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy” is prohibited. If convicted, the punishment is up to one year in jail. We will have to wait and see how this plays out.
What Do You Think?
Should charges be brought against Smith for violating privacy? Let me know what you think in the comment section below.