Ohio Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Ohio Privacy: What you need to know

Ohio recognizes all four common law invasion of privacy claims:
• Unwarranted appropriation or exploitation of one's personality;
• The publicizing of one's private affairs with which the public has no legitimate concern;
• Wrongful intrusion into one's private activities; and
• False light privacy (Welling v. Weinfeld, 866 N.E.2d 1051 (Ohio 2007)).
Engaging in employee surveillance in a restroom constituted an invasion of privacy by “intrusion into seclusion,” a state court found in Speer v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corrections, 68 Ohio Misc. 2d 13 (Ohio Ct. Cl. 1994). However, videotaping an employee in his front yard while investigating his workers’ compensation claims was not such an invasion (York v. General Electric Co., 759 N.E. 2d 865 (Ohio Ct. App. 2001).
In the communications monitoring context, a federal district court refused to dismiss an employee’s lawsuit alleging that her employer had committed an “intrusion into seclusion” by reading thousands of her personal e-mails on a company-issued device. A jury could find the employer’s actions were “highly offensive,” and the employer’s handbook language regarding e-mail monitoring would have to be considered at trial along with facts such as why her supervisor read the e-mails and when she found out about it (Lazette v. Kulmatycki, 949 F. Supp. 2d 748 (N.D. Ohio 2013)).
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State law prohibits intercepting wire, oral, or electronic communications unless the wiretapping falls within an exception of the statute (e.g., obtaining a warrant, the consent of the parties, or in the ordinary course of business). Violation of the statute constitutes a fourth-degree felony (OH Stat. Sec. 2933.52). This prohibition does not apply if the person is a ...

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