Minnesota Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Minnesota Privacy: What you need to know

Common law. Minnesota recognizes three of the four common-law invasion of privacy claims:
• Intrusion upon solitude or seclusion;
• Publication of private facts (e.g., unreasonable publicity given to one's private life); and
• Appropriation of one's name or likeness (Lake v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 582 N.W.2d 231 (Minn. 1998)).
Minnesota does not recognize the claim of false-light invasion of privacy (e.g., publicity that normally places the other in a false light before the public).
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Social networking sites. In order to prove invasion of privacy under the theory of publication of private facts, a plaintiff must show (1) the defendant gave publicity to a matter concerning the plaintiff's private life; (2) the publicity would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and (3) the matter was not of legitimate concern to the public. The Minnesota Court of Appeals has ruled that an Internet posting on MySpace constitutes "publicity" for purposes of the first element of the claim (Yath v. Fairview Clinics, 767 N.W.2d 34 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009)). In this case, a clinic employee accessed a medical file in violation of the clinic's policy. The employee learned that the patient was being treated for a sexually transmitted disease. She then informed others of this information. When the clinic learned of this conduct, it discharged the employee. A day later, the clinic received a complaint that the medical information had been posted on MySpace. The patient then sued the clinic for invasion of privacy.
The trial court ruled that the patient failed to prove publicity because she could not show that a sufficient number of people actually viewed the webpage. The Court of Appeals reversed, explaining that ...

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