Fired Branch Manager Wins Privacy Suit

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ST. LOUIS – United Consumers CU on Friday was ordered by a state court to pay $532,500 in damages in a privacy suit where a former branch manager alleged she was fired after reporting that another employee had disclosed personal information after viewing her and her husband’s account information.

Attorneys for Brandi Catherall told jurors that their client filed a complaint alleging that another credit union employee, Julie Burns, had revealed information of her husband’s bonus with his own employer, including the amount. That was confidential information, taken from Catherall’s and her husband’s credit union account.

Chris McCreary, the credit union’s president, testified that he ordered an internal investigation and fired Catherall for cause and that it had nothing to do with the violation Catherall had reported. The credit union investigation alleged Catherall made numerous trips to an automatic teller machine and other actions alleged by employees. McCreary said those alleged facts were sufficient for him to lose confidence in Catherall and fire her.

Catherall’s lawyers argued the firing was a cover-up to prevent federal regulators from considering whether they should investigate the privacy violation. They also argued the privacy violation was something the credit union president didn’t want the credit union’s members to know about.

In ruling for the former branch manager, the jury ordered the credit union to pay Catherall $182,500 in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages.

 

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