Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
Misdirected e-mail, lost and stolen laptops, and security flaws in corporate websites, when they expose employee personnel information to unauthorized individuals, are now more than a potential embarrassment; they are a legal compliance challenge, especially for multi-state employers. With Massachusetts recently becoming the 39th state to pass a notice-of-security-breach statute, it is just a matter of time before all fifty states require notice of a security breach. While these statutes share a common thread, their requirements can materially vary, complicating the determination whether an employer has a legal obligation to notify employees and, if so, the steps that the employer must take to discharge its legal responsibilities.
Regrettably, it no longer is a matter of "if", but "when," human resources professionals and in-house counsel will be required to confront this legal compliance challenge. In a 2007 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, a leading think tank on privacy and data protection, 85% of respondents had suffered a security breach within the previous 24 months, and 81% had been required to notify individuals of the breach. With the centralization and digitization of employees' personal data into computerized human resources information systems (HRIS), security breaches involving personnel information are likely to become increasingly common and involve ever larger numbers of current and former employees, raising the stakes each time a security breach occurs.
Reviewing the provisions of the new Massachusetts notice law with reference to the thirty eight notice statutes which preceded it helps to highlight the most significant similarities and the most salient differences among these laws. With a full view of the variegated, legislative landscape, employers can more readily determine when and how they are required to provide notice. Click here to download and continue reading full-length Littler Insight publication: Employers Face New Compliance Challenges As Massachusetts Becomes the 39th State to Enact a Security Breach Notice Law.