I work in one of these open office plans (which now I dread) and there is a bunch of guys around who make really offensive jokes. I'm not all PC but these guys really cross the line. I want to bring this issue up.

I was thinking of getting evidence by setting up a mic at my desk and record what happens. I am in Nevada, where it is legal to record this way.

What would be the repercussions of this approach? Is there a better way to make a complaint so that I am believed?

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    Is there a reason why you think your word would not be believed? Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:02
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    I suspect the downvotes are because making a recording is considered such a bad idea, not because the question itself is bad. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:16
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    I edited the question, because I don't think it is a bad question. Give it a chance, rather than trying to delete it. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:39
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    Also worth linking to - leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-200.html#NRS200Sec650
    – jdf
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 4:46
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    Have you tried to talk to them about this? You might be seen as a betrayer when you go behind their backs with it
    – Bobstar
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 6:32

6 Answers 6


Although it seems like getting proof up front is a good idea, and appears to be legal in your location, it generally is not the best first option, and might not be a good option even as a last one, if it isn't actually legal.

It doesn't hurt to take notes on what is said, by whom, and when, instead of making a recording. HR and management looks on that as a much more appropriate approach when making a complaint. Generally, making a recording is a very aggressive move, and viewed very negatively by most parties, including management, even when it is legal.

Take your notes (if you have them), and make a verbal complaint to whoever it is appropriate to complain to. It should be investigated, and it is very likely that someone else will acknowledge the gist of what was said, which then gives the proof that you want from the recording.

  • Yes agreed. People view someone very negatively when they complain about things that don't directly affect them. This indirectly offends the OP as the jokes are just noise pollution and not directed towards the OP. So it's best to simply make it known that the noise pollution is not welcomed and needs to be turned down.
    – Dan
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:16
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    @Dan if the comments are racist or sexist, then it is right for the OP to complain. It's not merely "noise pollution", it is inappropriate in a work setting. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 17:18
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    Important note, it may not actually be legal in the location, as one-party consent is not the same as "not a party to the conversation but able to overhear it" consent. If it could be even reasonably argued that the conversation was not held in public (being able to overhear does not necessarily define it as public), recording it would be a felony if the OP was not a party to the conversation/jokes directly. To say nothing of workplace prohibitions/rules against recording people without their consent. Otherwise good advice, but it is dangerous to say directly "it is legal in your location".
    – BrianH
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 23:09

When you report your annoyance to <whomever you intend to bring it up to>, it is very unlikely that the offensive jokers will deny talking loud and telling jokes. And if you quote them from your notes, they are not going to deny what they said. Any resistance will revolve around how they didn't mean to offend, how sensitive you're allowed to be, etc. A recording would just be evidence of something not in dispute.

Of course, if the loud talkers deny they said what you say they said, then you could offer to gather evidence. Even then, don't go right to secret recording. Let <whomever you intend to bring it up to> suggest what evidence they would like. Perhaps a witness can be found, perhaps someone could listen in via intercom.

Or, maybe nobody will care no matter what you do. In that case they wouldn't listen to your recording either.


It could be against the law or against the company's rules.

If its against company rules then your going get fired and if its against the law your gonna get arrested.

Even if there are no laws or rules your going to be known as the one who recorded people and nobody is going to trust you. Then the boss is going to ask you why you didn't tell them to knock it off first. You do this and nobody is going to say a word around you.


This highly depends on state laws and what country you're in. In most states in the USA, you can record conversations with a 1 party consent. Since you are the 1 party, you're legally allowed to do so. But again it differs each state, and with each country.

However, keep in mind unless there is some sort of serious thing going on, regardless of state laws (or whatever country you're in) the end result might be you getting canned. You bring a video of someone making silly jokes, and HR would just look at each other funny and next thing is you being escorted by security out the door.

So unless they are harassing you or making your life horrible and preventing you from working, then I wouldn't do it. Instead I would just email the manager and state that your coworkers are making really rude and offensive jokes that you do not find funny. Otherwise recording them, and showing it to the boss will make you look like a tattle tale as their jokes and behavior is just between each other.

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    Does 'One Party Consent' consistently extend to "I can hear it, therefore I'm a party within the conversation"? So I'm not sure if that advice is entirely true and seems potentially unsafe. Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 22:50
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    Obviously the OP is not a party in the conversation. Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 3:23

This is a legal question - chances are it is illegal, what law it falls under depends on your jurisdiction. On a personal note, it is a vile act to secretly film or record people just to ruin their lives because you personally don't agree with their sense of humor or worldviews.

Why not move on to a better place where better people like you belong and leave these horrible terrible persons behind?

PS: I find it very hard to believe this would be legal in Nevada (or anywhere in any Western country without a court order or consent).

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    Why not move on to a better place where better people like you belong and leave these horrible terrible persons behind? because, in the US, employees have a right to work without being subject to discrimination, harassment, or hostile workplaces. Just "moving on" would basically be giving up on the intent of the law. Your tone borders on victim-bullying. "People like you?" Really?
    – dwizum
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 12:52
  • @dwizum he's not mentioning any kind of harassment, my understanding is he just doesn't like their sense of humor. More importantly, if he has any issues he needs to go to HR who will take action. The second he takes the law into his own hands and starts recording people he's lost any chance of doing anything about it since all the other guys will have to say is that the recording was done illegally and then take him to HR for violation of their rights to privacy. Now HR has two cases, one with proof the other one with proof they can't use. Who do you think will win?
    – solarflare
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 22:38

Record it if you want, it doesn't matter if it's "legal" or not but I'd suggest bringing in some headphones or something instead so you don't end up singled out.

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    Question was : 'What would be the repercussions of this approach? Is there a better way to make a complaint so that I am believed?' This isn't an answer to the question.
    – Bobstar
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 9:36

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