A federal district court in New Jersey ruled this week that an employer might have invaded an employee’s common-law privacy rights by coercing a co-worker into giving the employer access to the employee’s Facebook profile.
The plaintiff, a nurse and paramedic employed by a non-profit hospital service corporation, alleges that her supervisor forced a co-worker who was one of the plaintiff’s Facebook friends to log into Facebook in front of the supervisor so the supervisor could see the plaintiff’s postings. The complaint alleges the supervisor viewed and copied several of the plaintiff’s posts, including a comment implying that paramedics should not have saved a man who shot and killed a guard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The complaint alleges that the employer sent letters about the post to state regulators in a “malicious” attempt to damage the plaintiff’s reputation and employment opportunities. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s common law invasion of privacy claim and her claim under New Jersey’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act.