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.