LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow an employer to sue an employee who records images or sound on the employer’s premises and uses the material in a way that breaches the employees’ duty of loyalty to the employer.
The Senate voted 28-3 to approve House Bill 1665 by Rep. DeAnn Vaught, R-Horatio. The bill, which passed in the House last week, goes back to that chamber for concurrence in a Senate amendment.
Under the bill, a person who knowingly gains access to a nonpublic area on another person’s premises and engages in an unauthorized act would be liable for any damages sustained by the owner of the property.
That would include an employee who records images or sound and uses the material in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, captures or removes data or documents and uses them in a way that breaches the duty of loyalty, conspires in the organized theft of items from the employer, or participates in an act that substantially interferes with the employer’s ownership or possession of property, the bill states.
A person who knowingly directs, assists, compensates or induces another person to engage in such acts would be jointly liable under the bill.
Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch, who has filed a matching Senate bill, has said the measure targets corporate espionage and is not aimed at undermining whistle blowers.
The ASPCA on Wednesday called on Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill, which it said is “a whistleblower suppression bill that aims to silence those who expose animal abuse on factory farms, and also threatens workers’ rights and food safety.”