Sports bar places surveillance camera in men's restroom to stop vandalism

June 19, 2013 5:33:09 PM PDT
Some customers at a sports bar on Lake Conroe are complaining -- not about the service or the food, but because they're being watched in the men's bathroom.

It's not the place you'd expect to be under surveillance. The management says it's for safety, but our legal analyst says it's actually illegal.

Customer Patrick Winter said, "I was the first one to notice it."

When Winter and friends went to hang out at Wolfies on a Saturday afternoon, the last thing they expected to brew was a legal fight.

"They're up high above the door so you don't notice them until you've already gone to the restroom -- done your business, go to wash your hands and you look up and see a camera looking straight down at you," Winter said.

Yes, a surveillance camera in the men's restroom, with a sign posted in the hallway stating it's there for 'your safety.'

"This is a violation of privacy," Winter said. "You're in there using the restroom and people are videotaping it. That can't be right!"

KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy said, "It is a serious violation of the law."

Androphy says it's illegal in Texas to record someone in a restroom or dressing room without consent.

"Putting up a sign that says we're doing this is not consent on the part of the customer," he explained. "It may be notice. But notice is not consent."

We went inside to find the owner, but got a manager.

We asked, "You guys have cameras in the men's restroom, like surveillance cameras?"

"Yeah, we have people trashing the bathrooms," the manager responded. "It's only faced toward the sink."

But she admitted the cameras are recording.

Androphy says that opens Wolfies to possible lawsuits.

"Not only lawsuits, but the violation is a state jail felony and somebody can go to jail for up to two years," he added.

That's action Winter says he may now consider.

He said, "My trip to the restroom could be all over the internet and I wouldn't even know it."

If you think you've been recorded at this bathroom, Androphy suggests you report it to the district attorney's office.

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