Wisconsin Privacy laws & HR compliance analysis

Wisconsin Privacy: What you need to know

Statute. Under Wisconsin law, an individual is afforded the legal right to be free from unreasonable invasions of privacy (Wis. Stat. § 895.01). Under Wisconsin law, the definition of “invasion of privacy” includes:
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• Intrusion upon the privacy of another that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person in a place that a reasonable person would consider private or in a manner that is actionable for trespass;
• The use, for advertising purposes or for purposes of trade, of the name, portrait, or picture of any living person, without having first obtained the written consent of the person or, if the person is a minor, of his or her parent or guardian;
• Publicity given to a matter concerning the private life of another that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
• Conduct that is prohibited under the criminal law regarding representations depicting nudity (WI Stat. Sec. 995.50).
A claim for invasion of privacy under the “intrusion” prong could be brought by an employee who alleged his employer entered his office, opened his private mail, and removed his personal items, a federal district court ruled (Muwonge v. Eisenberg, No. 07-C-0733 (E.D. Wis. 2008)).
Violations of the law may result in equitable relief (e.g., a cease-and-desist order), monetary damages, and an award of reasonable attorneys' fees.
If an employer is successful in defending against an invasion of privacy claim, a Wisconsin court must then determine whether the claim was “frivolous.” A frivolous claim is defined by the law as one that either has no basis in law or equity (i.e., completely unfounded) or was commenced in bad faith or for harassment purposes. If the court determines that an employee's claim is ...

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