On May 16, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in Spokeo Inc. v. Thomas Robins, holding that the Ninth Circuit’s ruling applied an incomplete analysis when it failed to consider both aspects of the injury-in-fact requirement under Article III. The Court found that a consumer could not sue Spokeo, Inc., an alleged consumer reporting agency that operates a “people search engine,” for a mere statutory violation without alleging actual injury.
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The U.S. Supreme Court has set oral argument for April 19, 2010, to review the Ninth Circuit’s 2008 decision on employee privacy in Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co.  Although Quon concerns the scope of privacy rights afforded to public employees under the Fourth Amendment, the case also has forced private employers to renew their focus on ensuring robust and consistent enforcement of employee monitoring policies.  Unlike government employers, private employers are not subject to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures; instead, they must comply with federal wiretap statutes and state law.  In practice, however, the “reasonable expectation of privacy” test courts apply to state common law privacy claims that govern private employers is virtually identical to the Fourth Amendment test.  Accordingly, the Supreme Court’s review of the Constitutional test likely will affect how courts view privacy claims brought against private employers.

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The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will review the Ninth Circuit’s 2008 decision on employee privacy in Quon v. Arch Wireless Operating Co.  In Quon, the Ninth Circuit considered whether the Ontario, California police department and the City of Ontario violated a police officer’s privacy rights by reviewing private text messages the officer sent using a two-way pager issued by the police department.  The police officer had on several occasions exceeded the limit on the text messages provided by the department-paid plan.  Each time, the officer paid for the overage without anyone reviewing his text messages.  When the officer again exceeded the limit, his supervisor requested from the service provider and subsequently reviewed transcripts of the officer’s messages to determine if the messages were work-related.

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