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Employer's Unauthorized Access to Employee-Only Social Networking Website Violates Stored Communications Act

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88702 (D. N.J. Sept. 25, 2009) (0 other reports)

Employer's Unauthorized Access to Employee Only Social Networking Website Violates Stored Communications Act

Author: Jill Gormley, Strong and Clear Communications

In Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, +2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88702 (D. N.J. Sept. 25, 2009), the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey considered whether an employer's unauthorized access to an employee-only chat room on a social networking website violates both the Stored Communications Act and New Jersey's electronic surveillance law.

Under the Stored Communications Act (SCA), it is illegal to intentionally and knowingly access an individual's wire or electronic communication without authorization. Individuals whose wire or electronic communication has been accessed without authorization may sue for violations of the Stored Communication Act in federal court, and may be eligible for both compensatory and punitive damages. New Jersey has a similar statute.

In this case, the court held that because a management employee had used his position of authority and coerced an employee into revealing her personal log-in information to gain access to a private social networking website, the employer's unauthorized access violated the SCA and New Jersey law.