Home worker gets verbal warning for gaming on break despite switching to their own PC

An old IBM PC recolored pink with an ominous eye on screen.
(Image credit: Getty)

Imagine discovering your boss had somehow been listening to everything you did and said, even outside of meetings and phone calls. How fired would you be? Okay, so it's a little far-fetched for most, but these are the fears of one Redditor, whose boss found out they were playing video games on their lunch break, and gave them a verbal warning for it.

Recyyklops posted on r/antiwork after they received the warning for simply spending one of their lunch breaks winding down, playing some video games… because why not? Usually there aren't official rules for what you can and can't do on your break, although reading through some of the comments, I may have just been really lucky with my bosses.

Since they've been working for a call centre, OP says their work laptop has been loaded with a software called five9—a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. "In this software, managers are able to listen in on calls, even when you are on hold," they explain. But that doesn't explain why their boss could hear them playing games on their break.

"I am not in the phone or chat queue, so that tells me that she is able to just listen to me all the time? Being on break aside, is that even legal without telling me? Now I just feel weirded out not knowing if they are just sitting there listening to me."

A quick search of five9 didn't turn up any similar complaints about the software. In fact, it scored a 7.7 out of 10 on Trustradius, though I'm not sure how many reviews there are made by low-level employees.

Of course, there's always the potential that OP was screaming profanities in the middle of the office, which someone overheard and told their boss who covered for them. Or the boss might just have been walking past and assumed they were playing games on company time.

Here's the hitch: it looks like OP was working from home at the time. In a later comment, they note that they were using their own personal PC, but with their work laptop open beside them. I can imagine the panic of wondering what else their boss might have recordings of. And does it stop at audio?

One commenter, familiar with the five9 software says: "It doesn’t record when you aren’t on a call. You may have had your disposition set to activate the recording?"

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If OP realises they had their profile set to record, yet hadn't consented to call recording in their contract, two-party consent laws could protect them. Two-party consent means both people on the call must consent to being recorded, as opposed to one-party consent in which only one person needs to be aware.

Currently there are only 12 states across the US that two-party consent laws apply in: California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

On the other hand, if OP's every move is being recorded through some other means even when they're not on call, that's a whole other kettle of fish and could be grounds for some serious legal action.

Until they know what's going on for sure, the consensus in the comments seems to be this: collect evidence that they've been reprimanded and what for, exactly. And for the love of all things holy, turn off your work laptop while on break, man! You can always get another job, but you can't get back your lost dignity should they see the other unsavoury things you get up to at your desk.

Katie Wickens
Hardware Writer

Screw sports, Katie would rather watch Intel, AMD and Nvidia go at it. Having been obsessed with computers and graphics for three long decades, she took Game Art and Design up to Masters level at uni, and has been demystifying tech and science—rather sarcastically—for three years since. She can be found admiring AI advancements, scrambling for scintillating Raspberry Pi projects, preaching cybersecurity awareness, sighing over semiconductors, and gawping at the latest GPU upgrades. She's been heading the PCG Steam Deck content hike, while waiting patiently for her chance to upload her consciousness into the cloud.