HR Strange But True!
October 29, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

So you always wanted to be in the movies...

Some Ontario, California, police officers have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the city and its former police chief, alleging they were secretly videotaped while undressing in the men's locker room of the police station in 1996.

The video camera was installed during an internal investigation over the theft of a flashlight, according to lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, which is representing the officers. Focused for three days on a wooden bench in front of several police lockers, the camera recorded an estimated 125 officers in various stages of undress.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the footage wasn't discovered until April 2003, when an officer found it during the relocation of police headquarters.

"I was left extremely embarrassed, and my privacy has been extremely violated," said Ontario police Sgt. Steve Trujillo, who spoke for nine officers at a news conference held to announce the lawsuit.

The videotaped officers contend the use of the camera violated their right to privacy. ACLU attorney Peter J. Eliasberg said there was no search warrant granted that permitted the hidden camera.

"To commit such a blatant violation of the law just to find someone who committed the suspected petty theft of a flashlight - this was going after a gnat with a howitzer," Eliasberg said.

The officers said they decided to file suit in federal court after the San Bernardino County district attorney determined that criminal charges could not be filed against those allegedly responsible because the statute of limitations had expired. Moreover, a city investigation determined that none of the Police Department officials allegedly involved was disciplined and that none of the officers' rights had been violated.

Sgt. Jeff Quon, a 23-year police veteran who was among the officers shown in his underwear on the videotape, compared the officers' plight to that of women who were secretly videotaped while changing into uniforms at a Hooters restaurant in West Covina, California.

"The Hooters [restaurant manager] got five years in prison for what he did," Quon said. "Why isn't anyone going to jail for this?"

Source: Los Angeles Times (Registration may be required.)

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