Pennsylvania Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Pennsylvania Privacy: What you need to know

Common law. Pennsylvania recognizes the legal claim of invasion of privacy, which provides that one who invades the right of privacy of another may be liable for any harm done to the other person. There are four types of invasion of privacy:
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1. Unreasonable intrusion upon the seclusion of others;
2. Appropriating another's name or likeness;
3. Giving unreasonable publicity to another's private life; and
4. Using publicity that unreasonably places another in a false light before the public (Spencer v. General Tel. Co., 551 F. Supp. 896 (M.D. Pa. 1982)).
Generally, an individual can be liable for the third type of invasion of privacy if he or she publicizes private matters of another, the matters made public would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and the matters were of no legitimate public concern. However, a witness to a judicial proceeding is absolutely privileged to testify regarding defamatory or private matters as long as they have some relation to the proceeding (Doe v. Wyoming Valley Health Care System, Inc., 987 A.2d 758 (Pa. Super. 2009)).
For example, in this case, the employer revealed information from an employee's confidential personnel file during testimony before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The employee sued, claiming that the employer invaded her privacy. The appellate court disagreed, ruling that the testimony was absolutely privileged because a hearing before the NLRB constitutes a judicial proceeding.
Duty to safeguard employee data. An employer has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to safeguard its employees’ sensitive personal information stored by the employer on an Internet-accessible computer system, the Pennsylvania ...

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