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Wisconsin Privacy: What you need to know

Under Wisconsin law, an individual is afforded the legal right to be free from unreasonable invasions of privacy (WI Stat. Sec. 895.01). Under Wisconsin law, the definition of “invasion of privacy” includes:
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• Intrusion upon the privacy of another that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person in a place that a reasonable person would consider private or in a manner that is actionable for trespass;
• The use, for advertising purposes or for purposes of trade, of the name, portrait, or picture of any living person, without having first obtained the written consent of the person or, if the person is a minor, of his or her parent or guardian;
• Publicity given to a matter concerning the private life of another that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
• Conduct that is prohibited under the criminal law regarding representations depicting nudity (WI Stat. Sec. 995.50).
Penalties. Violations of the law may result in equitable relief (e.g., a cease-and-desist order), monetary damages, and an award of reasonable attorneys' fees.
Frivolous actions. If an employer is successful in defending against an invasion of privacy claim, a Wisconsin court must then determine whether the claim was “frivolous.” A frivolous claim is defined by the law as one that either has no basis in law or equity (i.e., completely unfounded) or was commenced in bad faith or for harassment purposes. If the court determines that an employee's claim is frivolous, it must reasonably compensate the employer for those fees and costs incurred as a result of defending against the action (WI Stat. Sec. 995.50).
There is additional information on these common law rights of privacy.
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