Tag Archives: privacy law

Latest Posts

Archives

Categories

Tags Cloud

Suing for Invasion of Privacy in Nevada

Privacy is a broad concept that reaches into every part of our lives. Physical privacy—that is, the ability to be alone and unobserved—is just one component of a larger picture. In our technological age privacy also comes into play with respect to photos and videos. People also expect privacy with respect to certain personal information, like details of their medical history.

Having one’s privacy violated can be a traumatic experience. The victim of an invasion of privacy may suffer a range of consequences, from psychological disturbance to real and lasting personal and professional consequences. In some situations a lawsuit may be appropriate to seek compensation for the serious consequences that can follow an invasion of privacy.

In legal terms, “privacy” is a complex topic with several specific categories, each with their own set of rules. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Intrusion upon seclusion. The law provides a general protection for each individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy is a complicated question, due in part to the history of judicial precedent covering this question. There are some clear cases where a person can reasonably expect privacy: inside a stall in a public restroom, inside one’s own home, inside a tent at a campground. As with many abstract concepts, this notion of privacy has fuzzy edges that require careful analysis. In general, a lawsuit based on intrusion upon seclusion requires that the defendant have acted intentionally. A neighbor who happens to glance through a window that faces onto the street may not be intruding upon seclusion, but if he climbed a fence to peek through the window the case would probably be different.
  • Appropriation of likeness or identity. Nevada law prohibits anyone from using a photo or film of an individual, or an individual’s name, for commercial purposes without the individual’s prior consent. The law provides an exception for newsworthy items. For example, an evening news show is allowed to display a photo of individuals present at a car crash without first getting their consent.
  • Public disclosure of private facts. One of the important categories of privacy covers all the information that each person accumulates about himself or herself that one expects will remain private. Financial information, medical records, family photos, and even a personal diary can all be examples of this sort of information. This cause of action requires that the defendant have disclosed the information to the public in a way that a reasonable person would find offensive. Unlike the previous cause of action, there is no newsworthiness exception to disclosure of this kind of information.

Someone who feels that their privacy has been violated should consider consulting with an attorney. Before filing a lawsuit there are a number of important questions that need to be considered, such as the extent to which the victim’s harm can be quantified, whether the invasion of privacy is ongoing, and the motivations of the potential defendant.

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area recover compensation for their injuries. If you have questions about your privacy case, please call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.

Are Mandatory Flu Shots Legal in Nevada?

Are Mandatory Flu Shots Legal in Nevada?

Some employers, especially in the health care industry, have started requiring their employees to get annual flu shots. Even though the flu vaccine has a lot of benefits both for the patient and the population at large, some people can experience serious side effects. These range from fever and nausea to allergic reactions and, in rare cases, serious conditions like Guillain-Barré syndrome. An employer mandate can feel unfair for employees who are concerned about the risks of vaccines or object to them on religious grounds. But if an employer terminates an employee for refusing to comply with a mandatory vaccine policy, does the employee have legal recourse?

At-will employment gives employers leeway

Nevada is an at-will employment state, which means that an employer ordinarily can terminate an employee with or without cause. There are exceptions to this general rule for employees who work under a contract, such as collective bargaining agreements, where the terms of the contract will override the default, at-will rule. But absent an arrangement that spells out when and how an employee can be fired, an employer is free to terminate an employee at any time.

Failure to comply with a condition of employment, such as a requirement that all employees get the flu vaccine, may give an employer cause for firing an employee. For the employee, being fired for cause could have consequences beyond just losing the job, such as affecting eligibility for retirement benefits. As a consequence, an employee who objects to a mandatory vaccine may be placed in a difficult position.

Responses to a mandatory flu vaccine

Employees who object to their employers’ mandatory vaccine policies have started taking the issue to the courts, either directly or with the help of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These cases have raised several potentially strong legal arguments in favor of employee choice:

  • Disability. An employee who can show that a vaccine may have negative side effects related to an existing disability may have a good argument that the employer must grant a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Pregnancy. A pregnant employee may be able to refuse a vaccine on grounds that other employees have been granted exceptions for other medical reasons. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits unequal treatment of pregnant employees on the basis of their pregnancy. Pregnant employees may also qualify for disabilities under the ADA in some circumstances, such as if they are suffering from gestational diabetes.
  • Religious convictions. An employee with sincerely-held religious beliefs that prohibit the use of vaccines may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so long as the accommodation does not present an undue hardship to the employer. Note that Title VII does not apply to purely secular objections, such as those based on particular scientific studies or non-religious personal convictions. See Fallon v. Mercy Catholic Med. Ctr., 977 F.3d 487 (3rd Cir. 2017).
  • Privacy. Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) most types of health care provider are required to keep confidential the health records of their patients. Employers are only entitled to such information in limited circumstances. In many situations, the administration of a flu vaccine in the workplace, such as by a third-party contractor, will fall outside HIPAA, but under the right circumstances a health care provider advising an employer that an employee refused a vaccine could violate the employee’s HIPAA rights.

GGRM serves the Las Vegas community

For over 45 years the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients in the Las Vegas area protect their legal rights and recover compensation for injuries they have suffered. If you have lost your job for refusing to comply with a mandatory vaccination policy and would like to understand your legal options, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476, or request a call through our website.

Employer Obligations to Secure Employee Privacy Against Cyber Attacks

Employer Obligations to Secure Employee Privacy Against Cyber Attacks

Major data theft has become a fact of life in the digital age. When an employer suffers a security breach and loses sensitive information about its employees, employees can face long-term problems with identity theft and violated privacy. But does a Nevada employer face legal liability to its affected employees when such a breach occurs? The law is unclear.

Distinguishing between deliberate disclosures and unlawful data breaches

Employers are required to maintain the confidentiality of a wide range of employee information. For example, under federal and state law, health records must be scrupulously kept apart from other information, with access limited only to appropriate individuals. Employees are entitled to an expectation of privacy regarding other records as well. An employer shouldn’t leave documents with wage information lying around for anyone to look at.

These kinds of restrictions generally prohibit deliberate disclosures of information. In the context of a data breach, in which an outside actor unlawfully breaks into a company’s computer system and steals information, the employer has not deliberately disclosed anything. An employee whose information is stolen must rely on a different theory to recover compensation. One possibility is negligence.

An employer’s duty to protect employee information from theft

Cases addressing this question have thus far shown that proving negligence can be a challenge for employees affected by data breaches. Among other things, proving negligence requires a plaintiff to show that a defendant breached a legal duty of care, and as a consequence caused the plaintiff to suffer a compensable loss.

In Castillo v. Seagate Tech., LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187428 (N.D. Cal. 2016), employees sued an employer for negligence after the employer disclosed W-2 information to a third party that requested it using a malicious phishing scheme. The hackers used employee data to file fraudulent tax returns. Significantly, the court held that the employer owed its employees, together with their spouses and dependents, a legal duty to protect their personal information against foreseeable attempts to steal it. But the court went on to find that many of the employees in the case hadn’t shown that they’d suffered compensable damages as a consequence of the employer’s breach of duty. In short, even though the company owed its employees a duty to prevent theft of their personal information, the employees couldn’t sue for negligence without showing that the theft resulted in real costs.

It’s not clear whether a Nevada court would follow the logic of Castillo to impose a similar legal duty upon employers to protect employee records. Courts elsewhere have not imposed such an obligation under similar circumstances. For example, in Dittman v. UPMC, 154 A.3d 318 (Sup. Ct. Pa. 2017), a Pennsylvania court held that an employer had no legal duty to protect electronic records against an attack unless the likelihood of such an attack was well understood, for example because the employer had suffered a similar attack in the past.

Talk to an attorney if your information has been stolen

Talking to an attorney is an important step for employees who have had their personal information stolen from an employer’s systems. The attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez provide personalized, caring guidance to clients in the Las Vegas area. We are happy to explain your legal options for seeking compensation after an employer data breach. For a no-cost attorney consultation, call us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.