Can I sue my previous employer if they gave out W-2’s to a unknown person?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I sue my previous employer if they gave out W-2’s to a unknown person?

I received email from my previous job. They gave out everyone W2 forms to a

unknown person. The mistake made was they thought it was the owner of the company asking for the W2. They are paying for life lock for 2 years. The problem is the information is out there and can he checked or used at any given time for the rest of my life.

Asked on February 21, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The law does not provide compensation for hypothetical or potential losses--only for provable actual ones. It doesn't matter if the information "can be...used at any given time for the rest of my life"--there are many negative things that could happen over a lifetime, but the courts do not provide compensation for what might, but also might not, occur. You may be able to sue for the cost of your two-year life lock, since that is a cost you can prove and is a reasonable cost, to monitor the situation, etc. for a finite time (and that's the other thing: the courts will not provide compensation for unreasonable or excessive precaustions, like lifetime monitoring), but whether that's economically worthwhile doing is a different story.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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