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Union campaigns can’t invade employees’ privacy

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Unions, trying to regain the luster they lost over several decades, have embarked on aggressive organizational campaigns. But that doesn't mean you have to put up with their disruptive, harassing attempts to contact and organize your employees.

You should report to the police any trespassing on company property and unwelcome visits to employees' homes. Also, contact your attorney, who may consider filing an invasion-of-privacy case against the union.

Case in point: Elizabeth Pichler works for Cintas, a large uniform laundry company that was being targeted by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees (UNITE).

As part of the campaign, union organizers walked through the company's parking lot, jotting down license plate numbers. They also extensively searched the Westlaw database in an effort to identify Cintas employees. UNITE then sent union reps out to talk to employees at home.

Pichler and other employees sued, with Cintas' help, alleging that tracking down their addresses through license plate numbers violated the Driver's Privacy Protection Act. A federal court agreed and ordered the union to pay $2,500 to each employee whose license number it had traced. (Pichler v. UNITE, No. 04-2841, ED PA, 2006)  

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