From one of my very smart colleagues at the firm – a recent Canadian case involving “pretexting” like activity a la HP.
The short story: A company hires an investigator to see what some former employees are up to, since they’ve started a competing business. Based on what they find out, they sue the employees. In discovery (in rough terms, the process through which each party gets to look at the information that the other side has supporting their case), the employees find out that the investigator has obtained their phone records and also has recorded them on video at their business premises, in both cases without their consent and without a court order.
Sound somewhat familiar?
So the employees countersue the company and the investigator. It turns our that the company wasn’t aware of the methods used by the investigator and so is left off the hook, but the action against the investigators is given the green light.
Whether or not the claim of the employees will succeed remains to be seen. In the meantime, folks thinking of using investigators, for whatever purpose, would be wise to give serious consideration to the nature of information that they want to collect.