The California Court of Appeals held in Ignat v. Yum! Brands, Inc., +214 Cal. App. 4th 808 (2013), that an employee may file an action against an employer for the public disclosure of private facts about the employee even if the disclosure was made orally to others and not in writing. The court held that to require the disclosure to be in writing would be contrary to the purpose of California's privacy law.
In Ignat, the plaintiff filed an action against her employer for violating her right to privacy when her immediate supervisor orally revealed the plaintiff's bipolar condition to her co-workers. In order to establish a claim for public disclosure of private facts, an individual must show a public disclosure of a private fact which would be offensive and objectionable to the reasonable person and which is not of legitimate public concern. See Shulman v. Group W Productions, Inc., +18 Cal. 4th 200 (1998). The lower court initially dismissed the case, holding that a right to privacy claim for the public disclosure of private facts must be based on a writing.
However, the appeals court reversed this outdated rule and held that a plaintiff can maintain a claim that his or her right to privacy has been violated based on an oral disclosure of private facts because written and oral disclosures are equally damaging.
Employee Management > Employee Privacy: California
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