Asked in Consumer Law, Civil Rights and Communications Law for Washington

Q: Can a communication between a consumer and a business be disclosed to 3rd parties?

I submitted a complaint (as a consumer) to a business. That business forwarded my complaint to my employer which they later used as evidence to justify disciplinary action. Is that violation of Privacy law in WA (RCW 9.73. 030)?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: Yes, it appears that the business violated Washington state's privacy law by disclosing your consumer complaint communication to your employer without your consent.

Specifically, Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 9.73.030 states that it is unlawful for individuals or businesses to "intercept, or record any...private communication transmitted by telephone, telegraph, radio, or other device" without the consent of all participants.

Private communications are defined as communications where the parties have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Your consumer complaint to the business would likely qualify.

By taking your private communication directed to the business regarding a consumer complaint and forwarding that to a third party (your employer) without your permission, the business violated this law.

You could have grounds to pursue legal action against the business for statutory damages under RCW 9.73.060. An attorney can evaluate your case specifics and options.

At minimum, you should inform both the business and your employer that disclosure of your complaint without consent violated privacy laws. Consult RCW 9.73.030-060 for the statutes prohibiting disclosure of illegally intercepted communications in WA.

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