They told 300 people my salary and social security number – is that legal?

I received a notice from my employer that they were changing the numbers of the salesmen to be identified. These are three digit numbers. When the new number arrived, it was contained in a list with all the other sale associates that included our names, addresses, rate of pay, and social security numbers. I have 300 employees’ personal employment information. What scares me is that they have mine. Can my employer legally give my information to other employees without my consent?

Posted 06-10-2001

Ann Kiernan responds:

WOW. Get to a lawyer immediately. They are going to say it was a mistake, but they have a duty to take reasonable care with sensitive information. This is not reasonable care!

The employer should immediately require everyone who received this information to shred it. If anyone is found to have used the information for fraudulent purposes, they should be fired and criminally prosecuted. I think at this point you should put your efforts into preventing damage that could arise from this.

Whether you could sue for big money is another matter. But with 300 potential plaintiffs, even a small recovery per person could be big. Good luck!

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.