What happens when an employer obtains access to your Facebook page? In Galvez v. City of Katy, No. No. H-18-4221, 2019 US Dist LEXIS 20634 (S.D. Tex. 2/8/2019), we see an employer who accessed Maria Galvez’ Facebok page while she was out on leave. The City had access to her page, because Ms. Galvez was the administrator for the City’s Facebook page. Her personal page was connected to the City’s Facebook page. The City then used some of her comments in a Council hearing in response to an appeal by the employee.
Ms. Galvez sued the employer for intrusion of her seclusion and invasion of privacy. Later, she added claims based on unlawful search and seizure (42 U.S.C. §1983) and on the Stored Stored Communications Act (18 U.S,C. §2707). The employer moved for partial judgment on the pleadings. The Southern District of Texas rejected the motion.
The court found the City acted in a proprietary capacity when it looked at her Facebook Messenger pages. It was not acting in a governmental capacity. So, the court rejected the sovereign immunity defense. Intrusion of seclusion.invasion of privacy is an intentional tort. The Texas Tort Claims Act does not waive governmental immunity for intentional torts. The court added that it may turn out that the City had some governmental interest in looking at her Facebook information, for now at this stage, dismissal of her claims are not warranted. See the decision here.