Union President Had Expectation Of Privacy In Private Facebook Posting, New Jersey District Court Holds

In Ehling v. Monmouth Ocean Hosp. Serv. Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74558 (D.N.J. May 30, 2012), a supervisor convinced an employee to access the private Facebook account of the plaintiff (a co-worker and the union president), so that the supervisor could view and print its contents. The supervisor then mailed copies of several entries to various state agencies, claiming that the posts (which criticized paramedics’ response to a shooting at the Holocaust Museum) showed a disregard for patient safety. The plaintiff sued her employer for common law invasion of privacy (among other claims), and the employer moved to dismiss. After a detailed survey of the current state of the law concerning a right to privacy in social media postings, and a conclusion that the law was unsettled, the court held that the plaintiff stated a plausible claim for invasion of privacy and denied the employer’s motion to dismiss. According to the court, the “[p]laintiff may have had a reasonable expectation that her Facebook posting would remain private, considering that she actively took steps to protect her Facebook page from public viewing.”

Note: This article was published in the July 2012 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

 


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