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Kronenberger Rosenfeld Prevails on Demurrer in Workplace Privacy Case

  |   Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On Monday, January 5, 2015, Kronenberger Rosenfeld, LLP secured an important early victory in a workplace surveillance lawsuit, prevailing on a demurrer on behalf of the plaintiff Charles Brautigam. Brautigam is suing his employer East Whittier City School District (“EWCSD”) and its employees David Feliciano and Mary Branca for violations of the Wiretap Act, a federal computer anti-surveillance statute, in addition to claims under the Stored Communications Act and California state laws. Brautigam has alleged that the Defendants obtained Brautigam’s passwords to his personal online accounts by reviewing the contents of his work computer without his knowledge or consent. The Defendants then used Brautigam’s passwords to log into his personal email and Facebook accounts to review his private communications. The case is Brautigam v. East Whittier City School District, Case No. BC541803. Kronenberger Rosenfeld Associate Conor Kennedy argued against the demurrer on behalf of Brautigam.

In their briefing and at the hearing, the Defendants maintained that no violation of the Wiretap Act had occurred because the surveilled emails were not acquired while “in transit.” The Defendants further argued that Brautigam had consented to the Defendants’ use of his passwords by agreeing that his workplace computer could be monitored. The Honorable Susan Bryant-Deason of the Los Angeles Superior Court overruled the demurrer in its entirety after two rounds of oral argument and supplemental briefing.

Kronenberger Rosenfeld’s victory opened the possibility for Brautigam to collect punitive damages. Trial in Brautigam v. East Whittier City School District is scheduled for October of 2015.

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