What is an employer’s liability for accidentally disclosing an employee’s personal information?

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What is an employer’s liability for accidentally disclosing an employee’s personal information?

My employer sent out my W-2 for disability in another person’s package. They received it and sent it back but the package was opened. Do I have any legal recourse for this negligence and release of my personal info that has left me wide open for identity theft? My SSN and all other information was made available.

Asked on March 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

IF you actually suffer some loss or liability from this--e.g. if you are the victim of identity theft, which damages your credit rating, causes charges to be made or loans taken out in your name, or causes you to be accused of a crime--then you may very well have a cause of action. However, if you have not been injured, there really is nothing to sue for--the law doesn't provide compensation for speculative damages, only for actual, provabable losses, Arguably, you could sue for the cost of a 1 or 2 year subscription or so to a credit-monitoring service (if your employer won't pay voluntarily; you can always ask them to pick this up for you), but it's difficult to imagine that doing so would be economically worthwhile.


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