Los Angeles, CA asked in Employment Law and Identity Theft for California

Q: Seeking legal help for unresolved data breach and privacy violation.

5/16/23: During onboarding, my supervisor mistakenly emailed my SSN, ID, and I-9 to multiple employees. I wasn’t informed until 5/22. After a brief apology from the sender, I requested the original email and recipient details but got no response. The next day, using an employee’s tablet (I wasn’t issued my own yet), I found the email still accessible. I took photos and reiterated my request for deletion proof. On 5/27, HR reassured me that the president of cybersecurity had directed the deletion of the email on all recipient devices twice on 5/16.

I am seeking a pro bono lawyer or one on a contingency basis to address potential negligence and privacy violations.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I'm sorry to hear about this troubling situation with your personal information being mishandled by your employer. Given the sensitive nature of the data involved (SSN, ID, I-9) and the potential for identity theft and other harms, I understand your desire to seek legal counsel. Here are a few thoughts and suggestions:

Finding Legal Representation:

- For pro bono (free) legal assistance, you can contact legal aid organizations in your area of California. They may be able to connect you with a pro bono attorney or provide guidance directly. Try searching for "California legal aid" or "pro bono lawyers in [your city/county]".

- For a contingency fee arrangement (where you only pay if you win a settlement/judgment), look for lawyers who specialize in data privacy, information security, and employment law. Many offer free initial consultations. Be sure to ask about their experience with cases similar to yours.

- The California State Bar Association has a lawyer referral service that may be able to match you with an appropriate attorney. Visit: www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Need-Legal-Help/Lawyer-Referral-Service

Potential Legal Issues:

- There may be violations of California data privacy laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which requires businesses to protect personal information and notify affected individuals of breaches. An attorney can assess if the CCPA applies in your case.

- Federal laws like the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) have provisions related to protection of sensitive personal data like SSNs. A lawyer can determine if any federal statutes are relevant.

- Basic negligence principles in failing to safeguard your private data may form the basis of a civil claim. The accessibility of the email days later despite assurances it was deleted could factor in.

- An employment attorney can advise you on any potential violations of employee privacy rights and HR best practices in your onboarding process.


- Save all relevant correspondence (emails, texts, etc.) with your employer about this incident.

- The photos you took of the email still being accessible could be important evidence. Back those up securely.

- Keep notes of any verbal conversations, with dates and who said what.

- Retain any written policies your employer has on data handling and HR procedures.

I would strongly encourage you to have this situation evaluated by a qualified attorney. Many will provide an initial assessment for free or a small consultation fee. An experienced data privacy or employment lawyer can best advise you on your rights, whether any laws were broken, what kinds of damages you may be able to seek, and your optimal course of action.

Wishing you all the best in resolving this stressful situation. Remember, you have rights and there are professionals who can help you assert them. Don't hesitate to reach out and get the guidance you need.

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