WSNA wins injunction protecting your privacy and safety

I Stock 1081349274
Credit: iStock

The Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion and other unions repre­senting public employees have won an injunc­tion protecting your rights to privacy and safety.

The so-called Freedom Founda­tion, a notorious anti-union organi­za­tion, had submitted sweeping infor­ma­tion requests to state agencies and other public employers seeking the full names, birth­dates, work locations and e‑mails for public employees, including nurses employed by public hospi­tals, health depart­ments and other agencies.

In response, WSNA joined with other unions in a lawsuit to protect public employees’ rights to privacy and personal safety. Judge John C. Skinder of Thurston County Superior Court agreed with the unions that public disclo­sure of this detailed personal infor­ma­tion would violate the public employees’ right to privacy and could subject them to dangers of harass­ment and safety risks.

For instance, many public employees are survivors of domestic violence, who have taken steps to protect themselves from their abusers (such as obtaining a protec­tive order or taking a leave of absence from work due to domestic violence). WSNA empha­sized that nurses employed in public hospi­tals, jails, and other facil­i­ties provide health­care to patients suffering from mental illness as well as patients charged with or convicted of violent crimes. In some instances, nurses have been assaulted and threat­ened with physical violence by patients.

Judge Skinder ruled that public disclo­sure of the personal infor­ma­tion would not be in the public interest” and that the public employees repre­sented by WSNA and the other unions would suffer substan­tial and irreparable harm” from disclosure. 

he judge issued an injunc­tion temporarily preventing the State and other public employers from disclosing the employees’ personal infor­ma­tion until March 31, 2020. The delay in disclo­sure will allow time for the unions and the public employers to identify employees (and their family members) who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, in order to prevent disclo­sure of those employees’ personal infor­ma­tion on a perma­nent basis.

If you have concerns about any risk to yourself or your family as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other threats to personal safety, contact your nurse repre­sen­ta­tive as soon as possible so WSNA can assist in preventing disclo­sure of your personal information.