Digital databases are a backbone of today’s society. Financial institutions, hospitals, retail stores and a host of other venues are expected to store the data of customers responsibly. Employers, too, house valuable employee data, which begs the question: Can an employee sue for a data breach?
Companies retain a wealth of personal data on their employees. Examples of personal information an employer collects and maintains in its databases include personal identity, tax documentation, bank account information, benefits materials, and employment eligibility forms. Databases are expected to be secure.
Why do data breaches occur?
Hackers and scammers with ill intent can furtively bypass a company’s online security system and make away with a gold mine of valuable personal information. Scammers may have desires for monetary gain and sell the information for miniscule amounts and reap the accruing profits.
Or hackers may simply want to cause chaos within a company and to its external customers. A major data breach can damage a company’s reputation; similarly, hacking into company’s systems and disseminating the information can contribute to the ruin of the personal lives of its employees.
Hackers and scammers out for financial gain or on a smear campaign are not the only ones to pursue information in criminal ways. Disgruntled employees, too, may wish to take an unlawful path and attempt a data breach in order to get back at an employer.
Can the breached company be sued?
The most obvious defense would be to file a lawsuit against the hacker who caused immense disruption to the lives of the people whom the data breach affected. This would seem like a legitimate option since the hacker—and not the company—was directly responsible for the breach.
Filing a lawsuit against the hacker, however, is not always realistic. Instead, victims of a data breach may hold the breached company liable for failing to uphold stringent security measures and thereby allowing the personal information of employees to be compromised.
An employee who decides to hold the employer liable for the damages sustained after a data breach can make specific claims. One claim involves negligence: The company was obligated to take necessary precautions to protect employee information; since it did not, the employee suffered harm.
A second possible claim is breach of contract. This claim asserts that the employer or company was under either an express or implied contract to safeguard the employee’s personal information. A breach of contract occurs immediately upon the success of a hacker’s data breach.
A data breach lawsuit can lead to significant compensation for the employee. The amount of compensation depends on the type of breach the employee became a victim of, and the damages suffered. The employee may be eligible for certain types of damages.
The wide range of damages for which a data breach victim may be eligible include the cost of replacing compromised credit or debit cards, the cost of correcting personal information damaged during the data breach, and the cost to frequently monitor credit reports and other personal information.
Financial damages are not the only outcomes of a major data breach. Employees are also likely to suffer emotional pain and can therefore be eligible for emotional damages. Emotional distress, invasion of privacy, and damage to reputation can occur after a data breach.
What steps should an employee take when suing?
When filing a lawsuit against an employer for a data breach, the courts will closely examine a few key points that could influence the amount of compensation received. A victim of a data breach should have taken reasonable steps to protect herself after the breach, for example.
The employee whose personal or financial information was stolen should change all bank account numbers and cancel credit cards compromised by the breach. When certain accounts are affected by the breach, the breached employee should change the passwords associated with them.
A breached employee should also take steps to contact her bank regarding any suspicious or otherwise fraudulent financial activities. All information related to the breach should be saved; this includes correspondence from financial institutions and the website on which the breach occurred.
Document evidence of personal damages, such as fraudulent charges to a personal bank account or credit card and changes to individual credit. All activities that occur during the breach should be carefully kept track of in order to ensure the courts award a fair amount.
Employees who are victims of a company data breach have legal recourse. Suing an employer for putting personal data at risk and collecting compensation are practical options. It’s important, however, to first reduce the impact of the breach before contacting a data breach attorney.
In today’s digital world, the risk of successful data breaches is concerning and high. Data breaches can affect employees of all levels as well as companies of any size. When sensitive personal information is leaked, the data breach can have dire consequences for the victims.
If you believe you are a victim of a data breach, choose Anderson + Wanca to handle your data breach lawsuit. Our experienced attorneys have worked with victims of identity theft, stolen credit cards, stolen biometric data, compromised bank accounts, and leaked confidential photos and conversations.
Whether the breach was caused by a hacker, scammer or disgruntled employee, the data breach lawyers from our Chicago-based law firm will investigate the circumstances surrounding the breach and handle the legal claims and class-action lawsuits related to data security and cyber-attacks.
If you are eligible for compensation, Anderson + Wanca will work on your behalf to ensure that you are financially reimbursed for the damages caused by the company data breach. Damages can continue long after the initial cyber-attack, which is why data breaches are an alarming threat.
Consult the data security attorneys at Anderson + Wanca when a data breach affects your life. You will receive a free consultation from one of our knowledgeable lawyers. We’ll also provide expert legal guidance to help you further protect yourself. Contact us at our Chicago, Illinois, law office today.