Invasion of Privacy

The perception and use of privacy rights in both statutes and case law in the United States have changed dramatically over the last two decades. Legislators and courts now recognize the fundamental importance of privacy in the information age. The most notable change in privacy has been in laws governing the protection of personal information, including health-care information. The use of e-mail and social media in the workplace has also raised concerns about employees’ reasonable expectations of privacy and the rights of employers to monitor the use of their e-mail systems. One thing is clear: privacy is receiving more attention today than ever before.

M.G.L. c. 214 § 1B states that you have a right “against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference” with his or her privacy. There are several elements that you must prove to establish a claim for violation of this statute, depending on the nature of the intrusion:

  • The defendant interfered with your privacy;
  • The interference was unreasonable, substantial, or serious; and
  • You have sustained damages as a result of the interference.

The statute is designed to reach only intrusions on your privacy that are serious or substantial and also unreasonable. The statute was not intended to prohibit serious or substantial interferences that are reasonable or justified, or unreasonable interferences that are only trivial or insubstantial. Also, you should be aware that M.G.L. c. 214,§ 1B protects the privacy rights of you as an individual and does not protect corporations.

There are several possible defenses to a claim under M.G.L. c. 214 § 1B:

  • Photographing a line of people is not actionable if taken in a public place;
  • A newspaper may publish a story about an individual where the public has a legitimate interest in his or her existence, experience, words, or deeds;
  • Telephone calls at work from salespersons are an intrusion, but if the calls are fairly infrequent and not disruptive, then the intrusion is not actionable;
  • A person who voluntarily poses for a photograph does not have a cause of action for invasion of privacy; and/or
  • A private matter is made public by communicating it to the public at large. In the context of employment matters in Massachusetts, intracorporate communication is sufficient publication.

If your privacy has been violated, the experienced attorneys at Advocates Legal Group, LLP can help you determine the value of your claim and can bring the appropriate action for recovery. We will help you prepare your case in a way that demonstrates the other side is responsible for your injuries and other losses. We can also help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case and build a strategy to ensure the most successful outcome possible. Although recovery can be stressful, you do not need to go at it alone. We will be on your side every step of the way to advise you of your rights, options, and navigate you through the process. Call us now at (508) 796-5737, or email us at info@advocateslegalgroup.com, for a free case evaluation.

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