Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Postal Service For Alleged Privacy Violations

The attorney filing the lawsuit claims the USPS made employees' personal information available to various marketing firms.

Sharon Gaudin, Contributor

July 30, 2007

2 Min Read

A Seattle-based attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service for allegedly selling employees' personal information to marketing companies in violation of the U.S. Privacy Act.

The lawsuit, which has been filed on behalf of all postal employees, alleges that the USPS has allowed private businesses to access and use its employee master file, which contains private information, including home addresses, of all full- and part-time employees. The complaint noted that the USPS sets up co-branding agreements with different marketing companies. The agreements allow the companies to use the Postal Service logo on marketing materials that are sent to employees' homes.

The lawsuit seeks to force the USPS to stop disclosing employees' private information, and to recover the money USPS received through the co-branding agreements.

How many employees are involved in the suit was not released and Steve Berman, lead attorney and managing partner of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, would not provide any additional information beyond a release that went out Monday afternoon.

The USPS could not be reached for comment before deadline.

"It appears that USPS is sharing sensitive employee information to a wide range of marketers, hawking everything from cell phones to credit cards," said Berman in a written statement. "Not only do we think this sort of activity is illegal, we think it sets a very bad example as the nation's second-largest employer."

The Postal Service, which delivers mail daily to more than 300 million people at 146 million homes and businesses, has an annual operating budget of $73 billion.

Berman noted in a release that the Postal Service's actions potentially violate the U.S. Privacy Act, which set up rules prohibiting employers from sharing employee information within federal agencies. Berman also alleged that the USPS is mandated to protect the privacy of its customers, employees, individuals, and suppliers and is required to not disclose personal or private information from employee records without the employee's prior written consent.

"Our client is outraged that an organization he has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to would be so quick to sell his personal information for a quick buck," said Berman, referring to an unidentified client. "We expect a huge outpouring from postal employees throughout the U.S. who have experienced the same thing."

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