Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, No. 06-5754 (D.N.J., June 16, 2009) – A federal jury in Newark recently imposed compensatory and punitive damages on an employer whose managers surreptitiously monitored employees’ postings on a private Internet chatroom. The managers obtained the chatroom password from a female employee and then terminated the employees responsible for creating the chatroom. The jury found the employer liable for violating both the federal Stored Communications Act and the New Jersey Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act, because they obtained the chatroom password by duress. This decision reminds employers that they must remain ever mindful of the employee’s expectation of privacy and the limitations it can impose on their conduct.
Note: This article was published in the July 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.