If an employee in H.R. gave away all of our employee W2 information to a scammer and this has caused me financial problems, do I have a case?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If an employee in H.R. gave away all of our employee W2 information to a scammer and this has caused me financial problems, do I have a case?

An employee in H.R. at my company gave away the W2 info of all of our employees to a scammer posing as our company president. Now a fraudulent tax return has been filed in my name. I was owed a substantial refund. It has caused me significant financial burden and also caused mental burden that I have documented as well. I am wondering if I can sue? I have lost wages as a direct result of this issue because of not receiving the refund it has caused me to lose out on financial opportunities as well. My time cannot be replaced; I am beyond frustrated at this situation.

Asked on May 25, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the HR employee and the employer IF the employee was unreasonably careless, or negligent, in giving away the information (or if she did it deliberately; i.e. if she was a knowing accomplice); however, if she was reasonably careful and did nothing wrong, and the scammer did such a good job of posing at the president that the average reasonable person would have been taken in, she and the company would not be liable. Liability for an act like this depends on fault; the HR person must have been at fault in some way, and not taken in by an almost indetectible scam, for there to be liability.
If there is liability, you can sue for any monetary losses but not for your time (there is no recovery for the time you spend dealing with problems like this) or the "mental burden," no matter how documented. In cases like this, only actual costs/financial losses can be recovered.

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