Employer Law Report

Tag Archives: privacy

Court orders plaintiff in FMLA lawsuit to produce private social media content in discovery

In many employment cases, the parties engage in a battle over content in the plaintiff’s private social media accounts. The recent decision from the U.S. District Court in Eastern District of Michigan in Robinson v. MGM Grand Detroit, LLC, Case No. 17-CV-13128 (E.D. Mich. 1/17/2019) illustrates well how an employer can demonstrate its right to this discovery. In Robinson, the plaintiff, a valet attendant for the defendant employer, filed a complaint alleging race and disability discrimination under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in retaliation for taking medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act …

Boeing Data Breach is yet another illustration of need for employee education and training

In November 2016, a Boeing employee experiencing difficulty formatting an Excel spreadsheet. Not realizing that hidden columns included birth dates and social security numbers for 36,000 Boeing employees, he emailed the spreadsheet to his wife, who was not a Boeing employee, so she could help. This seemingly innocent act prompted Boeing to launch an investigation and notify those employees and officials in four states of a data breach.

You see, data breaches are not always caused by Russian hacks or other cyber-criminals. Sometimes it is the most innocuous action taken by the most well-meaning of employees. As a result, Boeing

Seven employment law trends to keep your eyes on for 2016

2016 has arrived, marking the beginning of a year of political transition. While we cannot be certain what the upcoming Presidential election holds for 2017, we can expect to see at least seven employment law trends as we move through this year.

1. Increase in Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) initiatives and enforcement

The Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed changes to the thresholds for exempt status, which will increase the number of employees eligible for minimum wage and overtime payments. In addition, technology advances in the workplace are likely to collide with wage and hour laws with the increased …

Social Media Privacy Makes Its Way to Capitol Hill

Editors’ Note: Colleen Marshall, a Senior Attorney in Porter Wright’s Litigation Department, is also a widely-recognized, award-winning news anchor for Columbus’ NBC-affiliate, WCMH – 4. In a detailed interview with Porter Wright’s Sara Jodka last week, Colleen reports on the use of social media by employers: "You Can’t Delete Your Way Out Of Social Media."

As noted in a recent blog and in the news report mentioned above, 21 states have social media privacy legislation pending. But, social media privacy could soon be governed by an act of Congress.

Representative Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.) just introduced H. R. 537, the "Social Networking

Why You Can’t Delete Your Way Out of Your Social Media Mess

Naked pictures? Drunken celebrations? Sexist comments? A click of a button and all evidence of your “Weekend at Bernie’s” can disappear. Job seekers know to scrub clean their Facebook pages before they connect with potential employers, to remove all trace of their off-color on-line life. But here in Ohio you can’t delete your way out of the mess you created through social media. Employers can legally ask employees and recruits to surrender their social media passwords, and thanks to Facebook’s newly expanded access program, the result is a stunningly deep portal into private messages, deleted posts, photographs and everything you …

SHOCKING NEWS!! We Are Spending Too Much Time Surfing The Web For Personal Reasons at Work. What To Do About These Cyberloafers??

According to a news release issued by the university, a Kansas State University study to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior concludes that between 60 and 80% of the time spent by people on the internet at work has "nothing to do with work." The study, which was profiled this morning on The Today Show, suggests that "cyberloafers" come in all ages. According to one of the researchers, "Older people are doing things like managing their finances, while young people found it much more acceptable to spend time on social networking sites like Facebook."

Certainly, while …

Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Government Background Screens in NASA v. Nelson

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued its decision in NASA v. Nelson, a case that we previewed back in October.   As you will recall, the respondents in Nelson were a group of California Institute of Technology employees who worked under a contract with NASA at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Pursuant to a Presidential directive, the Department of Commerce required all contract employees with long-term access to federal facilities to complete a standard background check by no later than October 2007.  NASA modified its contract with Cal Tech to reflect this requirement, but shortly before the deadline, the respondents filed …

Will GINA Impact Ohio Employers’ Ability to Conduct Medical Investigations In Workers’ Compensation Claims?

In the day-to-day administration of their Ohio workers’ compensation programs, self-insured employers (or a TPA or law firm on their behalf) often will obtain a medical authorization from the injured worker and then obtain medical records as part of the employers’ medical investigation. Though the authorization is often limited to specific injuries or body parts, they are just as likely not to be so limited. In addition, despite HIPAA requirements, healthcare providers often produce records in excess of what has been authorized (presumably because they don’t want to take the time or effort to cull through the records and produce only …

Low-Tech Monitoring of Employees Can Result In Employer Liability

While most employment lawyers, myself included, have been focusing lately on the opportunities and risks associated with monitoring new technologies such as social media and GPS devices, the Seventh Circuit reminds us that employers also need to remember that "low-tech" monitoring of employees can result in unexpected liability as well. 

In McCann v. Iroquois Memorial Hospital, which was issued on September 13, 2010, a doctor and a former employee at an Illinois hospital had a closed-door conversation in which they criticized the hospital administration. Without their knowledge, their conversation was recorded by a dictation machine, transcribed, and handed by …

Endorsement Guides Create Concerns for Employers

While many human resources managers spend sleepless nights worrying about the negative things employees may be posting on the Internet about them, this post from our sister blog technologylawsource.com reminds us that the nice things they have to say can get employers into trouble as well. Lesson for employers: Make sure your social media policy makes clear that employees who endorse their employer’s products or services on-line must disclose their employment relationship so that consumers are not misled into believing that the endorsement is free from bias.…

Facebook Announces New Privacy Controls

Facebook has announced that it is implementing new privacy controls beginning today that will give its more than 350 million users more control over the privacy of what they post to their Facebook pages. As reported, Facebook will now give its users the ability to set up lists that, for instance, can place their "friends" into separate groups such as family, high school buddies, and work friends and to choose who to share content with each time they post something. As a result, people easily should be able to choose to share family photos with only family and close friends …

HR Files Vulnerable to Misuse by Insiders

On December 1, 2008, we blogged about the risks of insiders improperly accessing personal data belonging to customers and the general public. Last Thursday’s Washington Post highlighted the vulnerability of human resources files to misuse by insiders. The Post reported that a human resources worker at the Library of Congress was charged with, and likely entered into a plea arrangement regarding, conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The worker allegedly accessed a Library of Congress database and obtained personal information, including Social Security numbers, of at least 10 Library employees. The information was then passed on to a third person who opened …

Union’s “Tagging” Tactics Violate Employee Privacy Rights

Starting in 2002, in an effort to organize employees at a Cintas Corporation facility in Pennsylvania, UNITE union organizers began recording the license plate numbers of vehicles located in the Cintas parking lot.  The organizers then accessed, either directly or through information brokers, state motor vehicle records to identify the employees’ names and home addresses. Ultimately, through this process, which is known as “tagging”, the union obtained the addresses for approximately 2000 workers (or their relatives or friends) and began visiting their homes with an eye toward convincing them to sign authorization cards. 

Unhappy with these tactics, several employees (together with …

Sixth Circuit Applies Balancing Test In Retaliation Case Involving an Employee’s Disclosure of Confidential Documents

A recent Sixth Circuit decision addressed the issue of whether the disclosure of confidential, proprietary documents by an employee to her attorneys constitutes a protected activity for which the employee cannot be terminated or otherwise disciplined. In 2000, numerous individuals filed a class action against the Cincinnati Insurance Company (CIC), alleging that CIC had discriminated against women in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). Kathy Niswander, a claims manager at CIC, was one of the plaintiffs in the class action. 

In order to respond to CIC’s discovery requests, the plaintiffs’ attorneys asked each of the plaintiffs, including Ms. Niswander, to send …