Fuel Smarts

CF Privacy Case Gets Another Chance

October 02, 2000

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Drivers who say their privacy was invaded by the installation of cameras in restrooms by a trucking company have made some headway in the court system.

Three years ago, cameras installed by Consolidated Freightways to detect drug use were discovered when a mirror fell off the wall of a restroom at the company’s Mira Loma, CA, terminal three years ago. The unionized truckers sued for invasion of privacy, but in April, federal district judges dismissed the truckers' suit without a trial.
An appeals panel ruled that even though the surveillance was apparently a crime, the truckers could only file grievances under their Teamsters Union contract.
Last week, however, a circuit court of appeals voted to reconsider the case and ordered a new hearing before an 11-judge panel.
At attorney for the truckers says the issue is whether union employees in the state of California are covered by California's workplace surveillance protections. California law prohibits the installation of two-way mirrors in restrooms or using cameras to look through openings into restrooms.
The panel majority in April said the company's conduct was "arguably criminal" but could not be the subject of a lawsuit because privacy issues were addressed in the truckers' union contract, and federal law prohibits unionized workers from suing for damages over disputes that require interpretation of their contracts.
However, the judge in the latest decision said no union contract could eliminate a worker's right to sue over an employer's criminal conduct.

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