Consolidated Freightways (“Consolidated”), the defendant in this action, is a large trucking company. It concealed video cameras and audio listening devices behind two-way mirrors in the restrooms at its terminal in Mira Loma, California, ostensibly to detect and prevent drug use by its drivers. Employees at the terminal discovered the surveillance equipment when a mirror fell off the men’s restroom wall, exposing a camera with a wire leading out through a hole in the wall behind it. Subsequent investigation revealed a similar hole in the wall behind the mirror in the adjoining women’s restroom.
Under California Penal Code § 653n, “any person who installs or who maintains . . . any two-way mirror permitting observation of any restroom, toilet, bathroom, washroom, shower, locker room, fitting room, motel room, or hotel room, is guilty of a misdemeanor.” Thus, Consolidated’s installation of the two-way mirror was a direct violation of California criminal law.
Soon after discovery of the camera, truck driver Lloyd Cramer, an employee at the Mira Loma terminal, brought a class-action suit in state court alleging invasion of privacy on behalf of all “individuals lawfully on the premises . . . who had a reasonable expectation of privacy while using Consolidated’s restrooms.” Guillermo Alfaro, another Consolidated employee, and 281 others brought a separate suit seeking damages for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress. They also sought injunctive relief to end the use of the surveillance devices.
Consolidated removed both cases to federal court, contending that plaintiffs’ state claims were preempted under § 301 of the LMRA because the claims required interpretation of the CBA between Consolidated and its employees’ union to determine the employees’ reasonable expectations of privacy.
• The issue is whether a collective bargaining agreement precludes an employee from bringing an invasion of privacy claim under state law. What result?
Cramer v. Consolidated Freightways, 255 F.3d 683 (9th Cir. 2001).
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