SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court Monday rejected a lawsuit filed against a Southern California residential children's center by two clerical workers who learned there was a surveillance camera hidden in their office. The camera and a related motion detector were set up by officials at the Hillsides Children's Center in Los Angeles County in 2002 in a bid to find out who was looking at pornography late at night on a computer in the office.
The center's director later said he didn't suspect either of the two workers who filed the lawsuit, but wanted to find out whether another center employee was entering their office at night to view pornography online. Center management said that since the center served abused children, it would be harmful to have such an employee working there.
The two workers, Abigail Hernandez and Maria-Jose Lopez, sued the center for invasion of privacy after they discovered a blinking motion detector hidden in a teddy bear and learned there was a hidden camera as well. The state high court, in a ruling issued in San Francisco, said the two workers had a reasonable expectation of privacy. But the panel also unanimously said the privacy invasion didn't rise to the level of an "outrageous" action that would have allowed the lawsuit to proceed.