Privacy Law Blog

Category Archives: Workplace Privacy

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German DPAs Announce Policy Severely Limiting Mechanisms for Lawful Germany-to-U.S. Data Transfers

Over the course of the coming weeks, we will examine the various options available to companies in light of the European Court of Justice’s (CJEU) decision invalidating the US-EU Safe Harbor framework, including model contracts, binding corporate rules (BCRs), consent and reliance on derogations. News out of Germany, however, indicates that a one-size-fits all approach … Continue Reading

District Court Rules That Smartphone Passcodes Are Testimonial; Protected by Fifth Amendment

In Securities and Exchange Commission v. Huang, the district court held that the Fifth Amendment protected two former employees against having to disclose their personal passcodes for company-issued smartphones to government officials.  The decision, likely subject to appellate review, exemplifies the competing interests at play as individuals increasingly use company-issued smartphones for business and personal … Continue Reading

Connecticut Joins States That Protect Personal Online Accounts of Employees

Connecticut has joined a list of twenty-one states with a statute designed to preserve the privacy of personal online accounts of employees and limit the use of information related to such accounts in employment decision-making. Legislation directed to online privacy of employees has also passed this year in Montana, Virginia, and Oregon, and such legislation … Continue Reading

CNIL Cracks Down on Employee Video Monitoring and Password Strength

In a recent decision (deliberation CNIL May 30, 2013 n°2013-139), the French Data Protection Agency (CNIL) sanctioned a company for implementing a CCTV system without informing employees and because the CCTV enabled the constant monitoring of one employee making the recording disproportionate to the goal pursued.  The CNIL also sanctioned the company because it failed … Continue Reading

In France, Are Employers Entitled to Access Their Employees’ Personal Emails?

In France, the guiding principle is that emails received or sent by an employee through the employer’s company email account are considered “professional”, which means that the employer can access and read them.  However, French employers must be cautious before accessing their employees’ professional emails because they are not permitted to access emails that have … Continue Reading

Rise of the Genome

We pack tons of personal and sensitive information in our DNA.  While the human genome has been mapped for a decade, legal issues of genetic privacy are just beginning to rise.  Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court decided what Justice Alito described as “perhaps the most important criminal procedure case that this court has heard … Continue Reading

Colorado and Washington Join Growing List of States Prohibiting Employer Access to Employee Social Media Accounts

Colorado on May 12, 2013 and Washington on May 21, 2013 joined the likes of California, Maryland, Utah and New Mexico by prohibiting employers from requesting that prospective and current employees disclose their username and password to their personal social media accounts.  Our Labor & Employment group discussed the Colorado law here and the Washington … Continue Reading

Protecting Privacy or Enabling Fraud? Employee Social Media Password Protection Laws May Clash with FINRA Rules

As a growing number of states pass legislation which will protect individuals’ social media accounts from employer scrutiny, they have encountered a surprising adversary – FINRA and other securities regulators. To date, at least six states have enacted social media employee privacy laws (which were blogged about here, here, here, and here) and upwards of … Continue Reading

New Mexico Joins Other States in Prohibiting Employers from Requesting Access to Applicants’ Social Networking Accounts

On April 5, 2013, New Mexico joined six other states (including, among others, Utah, Maryland and California) in passing a new law prohibiting employers from requesting or requiring that a prospective employee provide access to his or her social networking accounts.  Proskauer’s Labor & Employment group has discussed the new law here. … Continue Reading

5 Best Practices for Employers Addressing Social Media Use in the Workplace

For the second year in a row, Proskauer has conducted a global survey, “Social Media in the Workplace Around the World 2.0”, which addresses the use of social media in the work place. In 2012, Proskauer surveyed multinational businesses in 19 different countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong-Kong, India, Ireland, … Continue Reading

Keep An Eye On Those Shiny, New Mobile Devices!

As physicians, nurses, therapists and health care providers continue to utilize new smart phones, tablets, and laptops in caring for patients, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has responded with educational videos, worksheets and guidance to help health care providers  create a “culture of compliance and awareness” and to protect patients’ Protected Health … Continue Reading

HIPAA Privacy In The Aftermath Of Sandy: Be Prepared For The Next Emergency

As health care providers, patients, family members, friends, and disaster relief agencies such as the American Red Cross continue to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it is important to be mindful of privacy regulations and to prepare in advance for the next emergency. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act  of 1996 (“HIPAA” … Continue Reading

One year of Data Protection Enforcement in France: what the CNIL’s Activity Report Reveals

The French Data Protection Authority (“CNIL”) has recently issued its activity report for 2011 ( It provides us with some interesting data and allows us to reflect on the ever-growing importance of privacy and data protection in France. Video-surveillance, the right to be forgotten on the Internet, data breaches and abusive data collection by companies … Continue Reading

GPS in the Workplace

Earlier this year in United States v. Jones, the United State Supreme Court addressed the privacy implications of Global Positioning Systems (“GPS”), holding that placing a GPS tracking device on a suspect’s car was a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. Though a growing number of employers are using GPS systems to track employee activity on the … Continue Reading

Please Ignore the Intrusion, We Just Have a Few Questions to Ask: Supreme Court Validates Background Checks for Government Contractors

On January 19, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal government has broad latitude to conduct background checks on contractors who work at government facilities. Assuming, without deciding, that two parts of a standard government employment background investigation implicated a constitutional privacy interest, the Court held that the government is permitted to ask reasonable employment-related questions that further the government's interests in managing its internal operations, particularly where the results of such investigations are adequately protected from public disclosure. … Continue Reading

No Question about Quon: U.S. Supreme Court Unanimous in Overturning Ninth Circuit

In an important decision for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a case involving an employee's assertion that a government employer had violated the Fourth Amendment by unreasonably obtaining and reviewing personal text messages sent and received on employer-issued pagers. The decision, a victory for employers, provides helpful guidance for management of electronic communication systems and workplace searches. Read this alert to learn more about the decision and how it may affect you. … Continue Reading

New Jersey’s High Court Ruling Reaffirms Employer’s Right To Monitor and Restrict Computer Use

In a continuation of the Stengart v. Loving Care Agency case we wrote about in August 2009, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on March 30, 2010 that emails sent by an employee from a company laptop via a web-based email account (Yahoo!) to her attorney were protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege. In reaching this conclusion, the Court also ruled and provided insight on a far broader and more practical issue for employers -- namely, how to draft enforceable computer usage policies and/or make existing policies more effective. … Continue Reading