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Sony's former employees sue: The legal and practical fallout of suing your employer

Security is seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film
Security is seen outside The Theatre at Ace Hotel before the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California on December 11, 2014. The film, starring US actors Seth Rogen and James Franco, is a comedy about a CIA plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-Un, played by Randall Park. North Korea has vowed "merciless retaliation" against what it calls a "wanton act of terror" -- although it has denied involvement in a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures, the studio behind the film.
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Four former employees of Sony filed a class action lawsuit this week claiming the company failed to protect their confidential information from being hacked by outsiders. Plaintiffs' lawyer Gretchen Cappio said Sony must be held accountable to keep private information private - especially medical information as it's strictly protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In recent weeks, hackers dumped reams of Sony personnel data onto internet servers - including Social Security numbers, medical information and addresses.

This is not the first time the embattled entertainment giant has been hacked. In 2011, millions of Sony Playstation user accounts were stolen. Will the plaintiffs be able to prove they suffered actual injury from the data breach? Will more former or current employees join the lawsuit? Could industry folks who sue the entertainment giant risk being ostracized in Hollywood?


Jonathan Handel, practices transactional entertainment and technology law; Contributing editor covering entertainment labor for The Hollywood Reporter; Lecturer in Law, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California