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Court Makes Important Decision in Privileged Document Case

In many circumstances, courts say that corporations might relinquish privilege protection through internal privileged communications even beyond employees who have a “need to know.” This policy is often criticized because it gives corporations’ competition a chance to access internal corporate communications that would typically only be disclosed to employees that have a contractual duty to keep all of those communications confidential.

In a recent labor law case, Garvey v. Hulu, LLC, the plaintiffs argued that because Hulu employees beyond those that are immediate participants in a given issue have access to certain privileged communications, confidentiality is therefore destroyed. The court rejected this claim, saying that the privileged communications in question in the case were not in fact public, and that only Hulu employees had access to them.

According to the court, the confidentiality of internal communications was not “destroyed” simply because other Hulu employees had access to them. Judges cited United States v. Dish Network, LLC in saying that communications or other materials do not need to be “kept under lock and key” to be considered confidential for the purposes of attorney-client privilege.

Advocates for corporations say that even despite this decision, corporations should still take steps that ensure that all privileged communications that occur internally should still be sent to employees on a “need to know basis” to prevent sensitive information from being leaked to inappropriate sources.

If you have any questions about this case or how it might affect labor law and employees’ rights, reach out to the skilled attorneys at Whistleblower Law for Managers in Dallas, Texas.

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