Employers possess a substantial amount of information about their employees that they have a duty to keep confidential. Unfortunately, employers are often negligent with their employees’ information and it is misused or falls into the wrong hands through a data breach. Employees have the right to seek damages if a data breach results in the disclosure of their personal information from their employer, and the experienced Baltimore employment law attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP are here to help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation of your case and learn more.
What is a Data Breach?
A data breach occurs when confidential, protected, or sensitive information about employees is exposed to an unauthorized person. This information is viewed, shared, or sold without the employees’ permission. A data breach typically occurs because of weaknesses in either the technology that the employer uses to protect data or because of user behavior. The most common perpetrators of an employee data breach include the following:
- An accidental insider: this includes coworkers or supervisors who accesses or provides access to employee information unintentionally,
- A malicious insider: someone inside the company who intentionally accesses and shares employee data for the purposes of causing harm or personal gain,
- Lost or stolen devices: this can include an unlocked and unencrypted laptop, cell phone, tablet, or other device that has access to employee data, and
- Malicious outside criminals: these are hackers who use various virtual attacks to gain access and profit from employee information.
Data breaches caused by hackers typically occur in three different ways: phishing, brute force attacks, and malware. Phishing is when a hacker sends employees an email pretending to be a legitimate source in order to trick an employee into allowing the hacker access. Brute force attacks involve using software tools to guess the passwords for sensitive information, and malware can infiltrate an operating system, software, hardware, or servers in order to find security flaws and breach employee data. Employers are supposed to have training and security in place to prevent all types of data breaches from occurring, and when they fail to do so they can be held liable for damages.
How a Data Breach Impacts Employees
Data breaches are becoming more common every year, and despite substantial fines and other penalties many employers are still lax in their security protocols that are supposed to protect their employees’ personal information. A study found that data breaches have a profound impact on employees socially as well as in their workplace production. According to the report, the majority of employees injured by data breaches reported significant workplace disruptions, and many reported issues within their personal lives.
76% of employees reported impacts on personal relationships because of a data breach, and 16% of employees affected by an employer data breach ultimately quit their jobs as a result. 30% of employees surveyed reported missing an important personal event and 27% reported missing or canceling their vacation as a result of a breach. One-third of all employees surveyed also reported suffering additional significant stressors in their lives as a result of an employer data breach.
Data Breach Compensation Claims
If an employee’s personal information is revealed in a data breach caused by negligence or recklessness, they may have a claim for damages against their employer. Workplaces are required to have strict procedures in place for preventing, detecting, reporting, and investigating breaches of employee data, including implementing security measures where data is held, controlling who has access, and limiting those who have access to only employees with a legitimate need. If an employer fails to provide or abide by these measures, an employee can seek compensation for their losses.
Compensation for a data breach of employee information can include financial compensation for any losses due to financial crime or identity theft, including fraudulent applications for credit in the employee’s name, setting up fraudulent bank accounts, or accessing existing financial accounts of the employee. Damages also include compensation for emotional distress, as a data breach can often lead to significant stress and cause a substantial impact on an employee’s mental wellbeing.
Employees hurt in a data breach can also seek additional remedies in addition to financial damages. A lawyer can help secure an apology from those who initiated the breach, seek assurance about how personal data will be stored more securely in the future, and if appropriate get an employee’s personal information erased from the database where the information was accessed during the breach.
How a Data Breach Lawyer Can Help
When an employer data breach occurs that discloses employee personal information, hiring a data breach lawyer can be incredibly beneficial to the claim process. First, a lawyer can assess the situation and determine whether a legitimate breach has occurred. Once a data breach is confirmed, a lawyer can assess the full scope of damages that have resulted from that breach and determine the full and fair value of a case for an employee whose information has been leaked.
An attorney can communicate and negotiate with an employer to reach a settlement that fully addresses the economic and noneconomic damages caused by the data breach in order to fully compensate the employee for their losses. In some cases, the employer refuses to settle for a fair amount, and when that occurs an experienced data breach lawyer is the best person to take the case to court. An employee needs a knowledgeable attorney in their corner to make the best possible arguments to the court about why they deserve to be compensated for the losses caused by an employer data breach. To learn more about how an attorney can help after a breach of employee data, talk to our office today.
Call or Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP Now
A data breach is a serious issue that has the potential to affect the lives of employees for months or even years after the incident occurs. If your employer had a data breach that revealed your personal information, the experienced data breach lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP in Baltimore are here to help. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a consultation of your case with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate employment lawyers now.