California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog

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Category Archives: Privacy

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Public Records Act Update: What Happens on a Personal Device (May) Stay on a Personal Device

Posted in Privacy, Public Sector
This blog post was authored by Heather Coffman The California Court of Appeal recently issued a decision that may give some relief to public agencies responding to requests under the California Public Records Act (“PRA”).  The Court found that the PRA does not require public agencies to produce communications sent or received by public officials … Continue Reading

Do Your Employees Know Big Brother May Be Watching?

Posted in Privacy, Workplace Policies
Harvard University recently had some explaining to do.  Last fall, the University conducted an investigation into the source information leaked to the media about students at the Ivy League school who had cheated.  The investigation included searching the work e-mail accounts of 16 Resident Deans without telling them.  Although the University eventually told the one … Continue Reading

New California Laws Limit Access to Employee, Student Usernames and Passwords

Posted in Hiring, Legislation, Personnel Issues, Privacy, Social Media
Governor Jerry Brown last week signed two new privacy laws that will go into effect January 1, 2013.  AB 1844 and SB 1349 prohibit employers, colleges and universities from requiring or asking prospective and current employees and students to disclose social media usernames and passwords.  It also prohibits requiring or requesting employees and students to … Continue Reading

New Maryland Law Prohibits Employers from Asking for Social Media Passwords

Posted in Hiring, Legislation, Personnel Issues, Privacy, Social Media
Maryland recently became the first in the nation to ban employers from asking job applicants and employees for their Facebook and other social media passwords.  The law was signed into legislation by Maryland’s Governor approximately one year after the ACLU took on the case of Robert Collins who claimed he was forced to turn over … Continue Reading

What Does The Supreme Court’s Ruling In US v. Jones Mean For GPS Tracking By Employers?

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Privacy, Workplace Policies
Last summer we reported that an employer may under California law use GPS devices to track employer owned or leased vehicles.  We recently revisited this issue in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in United States v. Jones.   Although Jones does address the use of GPS devices to track vehicles, the holding will … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Agrees To Rehear Computer Data Fraud Case

Posted in Privacy
This blog post was authored by Alison Carrinski   In May we reported on the case U.S. v. Nosal, in which the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals examined whether an employee violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when misappropriating data from an employer’s computer system in violation of the employer’s data … Continue Reading

Lawmakers Deal Another Blow To Missouri’s “Facebook Law”

Posted in Education, Legislation, Privacy, Social Media
In August we reported on a new Missouri law that regulated communications between teachers and students on social media websites.  We also reported on the Missouri State Teachers Association’s (“MSTA”) successful efforts to block this so-called “Facebook Law” by obtaining a preliminary injunction from a Missouri Court.  Now, Missouri’s Legislature has voted to repeal the … Continue Reading

New State Laws Establish Gender Identity, Gender Expression, And Genetic Information As Protected Classifications

Posted in Discrimination, Legislation, Privacy
This guest post was authored by Connie C. Almond   The Governor recently signed into law AB 887 and SB 559, which prohibit harassment and/or discrimination based on gender identity and expression, and genetic information, respectively.  Individuals who are transgender identify themselves with a gender that is different from their “assigned” sex.  The term transgender … Continue Reading

NLRB Provides Guidance On Regulating Employee Use Of Social Media

Posted in Privacy, Social Media, Workplace Policies
This post was co-authored by Elizabeth Arce   It seems that every time you turn on the news some new technological innovation is being announced.  For example, recent weeks have seen the unveiling of new tablet computers and smartphones.  In addition, social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn are constantly announcing upgrades to their … Continue Reading

Missouri Court Blocks “Facebook Law”

Posted in Privacy, Social Media
Last week we reported on a new Missouri law that regulates communications between teachers and students on social media websites.  This so-called “Facebook Law” was scheduled to go into effect this week.  However, at the request of the Missouri State Teachers Association, a Missouri Circuit Court issued a preliminary injunction on Friday blocking the law until … Continue Reading

Missouri’s “Facebook Law” Restricts Communications Between Teachers And Students On Social Media Websites

Posted in Education, Privacy, Social Media
As the summer draws to an end, parents and students are beginning to prepare for the start of the school year.  For many parents, sending their children off to school can be both a joyous and fearful occasion.  The worry experienced by parents is fueled, in part, by news headlines of teachers having inappropriate sexual … Continue Reading

Court Rules Metrolink May Monitor Locomotive Engineers Via Audio/Video Surveillance

Posted in Constitutional Rights, Litigation, Privacy
This guest post was authored by James E. Oldendorph Jr. In October 2009, Metrolink installed two inward-facing cameras in all of its locomotive cabs.  While one of the inward-facing cameras records the control panel and gauges, the other is located seven to eight feet from where the locomotive engineer is seated inside the cab and … Continue Reading

Two Bar Associations Give Employers Another Reason To Adopt Social Media Guidelines

Posted in Litigation, Privacy, Social Media
Social networking websites have become a treasure trove for lawyers looking for damaging information that could be used to impeach an opposing party or any adverse witnesses in a lawsuit.  As a result, the New York Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics looked into the following question: May a lawyer view and access the Facebook … Continue Reading

Overtime Pay For Off-Duty Cell Phone Calls And Text Messages? Maybe!

Posted in FLSA, Litigation, Privacy, Wage and Hour
The cell phone, in particular the so-called “smartphones” (e.g. iPhones, Blackberrys, Android phones) are amazing.  These devices allow us to be in contact no matter where we are on a 24/7 basis.  Some employers issue these devices to their employees both as a benefit to the employee but primarily as a benefit to the employer … Continue Reading

Computer Use Policies More Important Than Ever: Employee Liability Under The Computer Fraud And Abuse Act

Posted in Privacy, Workplace Policies
This guest post was authored by Alison Carrinski The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held in U.S. v. Nosal that an employer may sue for damages under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when an employee’s computer or data use exceeds authorization provided by the employer. Section 1030(a)(4) of the CFAA … Continue Reading

Smokers Need Not Apply: Good Idea Or Illegal?

Posted in Disability, Discrimination, Privacy, Workplace Policies
Hospitals and other medical-related employers are at the forefront of a growing trend of employers who have adopted policies prohibiting the hiring of smokers.  This practice goes far beyond merely banning employees from smoking in the workplace.  Rather, these employers are actually telling smokers that they need not apply for employment at all, or that … Continue Reading

That Negative Comment Posted On Facebook May Constitute Protected Activity

Posted in Labor Relations, Privacy, Social Media, Workplace Policies
The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) is the federal counterpart of the Public Employees Relation Board (“PERB”). The NLRB is the body that oversees the administration of federal labor law, and PERB is the body that oversees the administration of California labor law. Recently, the NLRB prosecuted a complaint brought by its Connecticut regional office … Continue Reading

10 Things Employers And Employees Should Know About Social Media

Posted in Discrimination, First Amendment, Harassment, Privacy, Social Media, Workplace Policies
This post was co-authored by Elizabeth Arce The popularity of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter have created new and unprecedented challenges for employers.  The New York Times reported recently that even commanders in our Armed Forces have expressed concern about troops playing with iPhones and BlackBerrys when they should be working.  Because the … Continue Reading

No Common Law Negligence Cause Of Action May Exist Against An Employer For Inadvertent Disclosure Of Private Information Concerning Former Employees; But Other Causes Of Action May Exist

Posted in Privacy
Can a public employer be held liable for negligence or for a section 1983 claim because the employer accidentally disclosed the names, addresses, telephone numbers, marital status and social security numbers of 1,750 former employees?  An Illinois appellate court doesn’t think so. Cooney v. Chicago Public Schools was brought to my attention by the IAPP … Continue Reading

NLRB Case Involving Firing Over Facebook Post Settles

Posted in Privacy, Social Media, Workplace Policies
This week the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that a settlement has been reached in a closely watched case involving the firing of an ambulance service employee for posting negative comments about her supervisor on her Facebook page.  This case created a buzz among employers throughout the nation.  Given the prevalence of social media … Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Employee Background Checks Do Not Violate Privacy Rights

Posted in Privacy
Recently, the Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Ninth Circuit and upheld the federal government’s ability to conduct employee background checks in an 8-0 decision (Justice Kagan did not participate) in NASA v. Nelson (No. 09-530). The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (“NASA”) is an independent federal agency which has a workforce consisting of … Continue Reading