Lifeguard Supervisor Rob Eberhart, right, and lifeguard Patrick Cook show...

Lifeguard Supervisor Rob Eberhart, right, and lifeguard Patrick Cook show a camera discovered in the ceiling of an office where lifeguards change clothes at Martin Luther King Jr. Pool in Freeport. (Aug. 17, 2009) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A group of Freeport lifeguards who were videotaped last summer while changing their clothes on the job have sued the village for installing a surveillance camera without notifying them.

The lawsuit, filed this month in State Supreme Court in Mineola, said the village's practice violated the privacy of lifeguards at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park pool.

Two of the 10 plaintiffs told Newsday they didn't know a camera had been placed in the room - which contains lockers, a couch and a refrigerator - in June 2009 when they continued a long-standing practice of changing into their swimsuits there.

"It makes me completely uncomfortable that someone could have seen me completely in the nude, changing," said Siobhan Conroy, 20, of Baldwin, who worked as a lifeguard at the pool last summer. "I don't know how many people saw" the video.

The camera was installed to monitor new computer equipment for a parkwide surveillance system, village officials said.

"The room at Martin Luther King Jr. Park was intended to be an office and not a changing facility," Mayor Andrew Hardwick said in a statement, noting that bathrooms are available nearby. "The Hardwick administration was not aware, nor was it ever notified, that the room might have been used for that purpose."

State labor law requires employers to obtain a court order before recording video of workers in bathrooms, locker rooms and rooms "designated by an employer for employees to change their clothes."

The plaintiffs' attorney, Lawrence Carrà of Mineola, said the village "placed this camera surreptitiously in a spot where no one would see it and never informed any of the lifeguards."

Former lifeguard supervisor Robert Eberhart said parks officials have told employees to change in the room since he began working there 10 years ago. "It was well-known to the administration throughout the years that we changed in there," said Eberhart, 30, who was given keys to access it. "It was the only private, safe area lifeguards could change in."

A lifeguard discovered the camera last August behind a black cover near the doorway.

Village officials later said all the video taken at the office had been destroyed.

Still, "I was worried my pictures would be on the Internet," said Eberhart, noting that the village stopped assigning him to shifts in June.

Village officials said Eberhart continues to be a part-time lifeguard and, as such, "his schedule is subject to when his services are required."

Latest videos