Massachusetts Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Privacy: What you need to know

The Massachusetts Right of Privacy Act guarantees individuals the right to be secure from “unreasonable, substantial, or serious interference” with their privacy (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 214 Sec. 1B). Intrusions into areas in which the person has a legitimate expectation of privacy are prohibited.
In determining whether an employer has violated the Privacy Act, courts balance the employer’s legitimate business interest against the substantiality of the intrusion on the employee’s privacy (Gauthier v. Police Comm’r of Boston, 408 Mass. 335 (1990)).
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State law also prohibits the use of a person's “name, portrait, or picture” for purposes of trade without the person's written consent (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 214 Sec. 3A).
The Massachusetts Eavesdropping Act prohibits the unauthorized interception of wire and oral communications without the consent of all parties, subject to certain specific exceptions. Anyone who willfully commits an interception, attempts to commit an interception, or procures another person to commit or attempt an interception of any wire or oral communication may be punished with fines and imprisonment. The law further prohibits disclosing or using the communication that was obtained illegally (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 272 Sec. 99).
Exceptions. Most relevant to employers, the law states that it is not a violation to have an office intercommunication system that is used in the ordinary course of business. Although the statutory language may be unclear, the courts have interpreted it to mean that it is lawful for an employer to monitor employees’ phone calls and e-mail, provided the employer has a legitimate business reason to do so.
See Garrity v. John Hancock Mutual Life Ins. Co., 2002 U.S. Dist. ...

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