Massachusetts Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Privacy: What you need to know

Statutory bases. 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, § 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)). Courts have applied common-law factors from the Restatement in making this determination (Schlesinger v. Merrill Lynch, 409 Mass. 514 (Mass. 1991)).
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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 (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 214, § 3A).
Social Security numbers (SSNs). A consumer’s SSN may not be used as a personal identification number, a primary financial account number, or a central information file number. It may not be used electronically to identify a consumer to a financial institution or organization except for assisting in verifying the consumer’s identity (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 167B, § 14).
Healthcare information. The Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (PATCH) Act restricts the information health insurers may disclose in explanation-of-benefits (EOB) forms.
Insurers must honor the request of a spouse or adult dependent to send the form directly to that individual, or to an alternate address, rather than to the subscriber (the employee, for group health coverage). Insurers may not specify or describe sensitive ...

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