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Court Refuses to Seal Case That Plaintiff Wanted to Hide from Potential Employers

Added 04-16-21 08:21:01pm EST - “Unsurprisingly, the court also refuses to order private caselaw repositories and search engines to hide the information.” - Reason.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “Court Refuses to Seal Case That Plaintiff Wanted to Hide from Potential Employers”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Plaintiff worked for defendants from November 2014 until he was terminated on August 19, 2015. On December 14. 2016, he filed this action, asserting unlawful termination under the Equal Pay Act, the Fair Labors Standards Act, and various state laws. On March 14, 2018, the parties filed a Stipulated Judgment of Dismissal, which stipulated that "this case, having been compromised and fully settled, be dismissed with prejudice and without costs or attorneys' fees to any party" ….

On April 13, 2021, plaintiff filed this motion. In it, he alleges that, after the case settled "several third-party entities pulled the case filing and all supporting documents with confidential salary information of the Plaintiff" from the District of Oregon's "records database and the case file was then posted all over internet search engines," for prospective employers to find. As a result, prospective employers have asked plaintiff about the case during several job interviews. But plaintiff cannot "disclose the terms and conditions of [his] discharge without violating the terms and conditions of the [2018] settlement agreement."

Plaintiff identified at least seven third parties that "posted the case file to … multiple search engines." When he asked them to remove the postings, six of the parties agreed to do so. One, Leagle.com, refused to remove the postings without a court order. Plaintiff also contacted Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to see if they would agree to remove Leagle.com's postings, but the search engines also refused to do so without a court order.

Plaintiff alleges that the presence of case information on the internet, coupled with his obligations under the settlement agreement has "hindered [his] ability to be gainfully employed" and "is affecting [his] ability to provide for his family at a financial setback of over several hundred thousand dollars," which "violates [his] civil liberties to due process." He also asserts that the postings violate his rights to privacy under the Federal Privacy Act. Plaintiff asks the Court to "seal this case and all of its filings and documents from [the] public record" and to order third parties, including but not limited to 11 parties listed by plaintiff, to "remove the case filing" currently posted on the internet and "cease and desist from any future internet postings."

Courts have long recognized a "general right to inspect and copy public records and documents, including judicial records and documents." This right is justified by the interest of citizens in "keep[ing] a watchful eye on the workings of public agencies." Unless a particular court record is one "traditionally kept secret," [such as grand jury transcripts and warrant materials in the midst of a pre-indictment investigation,] a "strong presumption in favor of access" is the starting point.

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