Employers Must Navigate a Complex Web of Data Privacy Laws to Stay Compliant and Mitigate Their Risk

For employers of all sizes, effectively managing data privacy is a key aspect of compliance and risk mitigation. Compliance obligations exist at the state and federal levels in the United States, and non-compliance with an employer’s state or federal compliance obligations can have serious consequences. Not only can data security breaches due to non-compliance lead to the loss of employee and customer data—and the inevitable lawsuits that will follow—but they can lead to government enforcement action as well.

We help employers effectively manage data privacy compliance. We work with small and mid-size employers (SMEs) in all industries to help them implement cybersecurity programs, protocols, and applications that meet all applicable legal requirements and industry standards. By taking a proactive approach to data privacy compliance, employers can not only mitigate their risk of facing breaches that lead to civil and governmental litigation; but, in the event of a breach, being able to present evidence of good-faith efforts to duly protect employees’ and customers’ data can go a long way toward building a successful defense.

Data Privacy Compliance for SMEs

State Data Privacy Law Compliance

Despite its ubiquity, data privacy is not uniformly regulated in the United States. Only five states have enacted comprehensive data privacy laws that are effective as of 2023, with about a dozen others currently having bills passed but not yet effective, introduced, or pending in committees.

Employers must address state-level data privacy law compliance in all states in which they conduct business. State data privacy laws are not uniform, and while they do not exist in all states, the existing statutes’ broad definitions of “conducting business” mean that employers often need to address compliance even in states in which they do not have a physical presence. The states that currently have comprehensive data privacy laws in place are:

  • California (effective as of January 2020 and as amended January 2023)
  • Colorado (effective as of July 2023)
  • Connecticut (effective as of July 2023)
  • Utah (effective as of December 2023)
  • Virginia (effective as of January 2023)

Federal Data Privacy Law Compliance

At the federal level, Congress is yet to address data privacy comprehensively on a national scale—although various regulations and industry-specific laws apply. Laws and regulations such as the Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and FTC Safeguards Rule impose complex and varying requirements for covered employers; and while these federal laws and regulations are not new, interpreting and applying their requirements remains less than straightforward.

We assist SMEs with all aspects of state and federal data privacy law compliance. As your company’s data privacy counsel, we can determine which laws apply, and we can help your company put the necessary safeguards in place. We can also assist with monitoring the efficacy of your company’s data protection efforts on an ongoing basis, and we can advise you when new data privacy laws or changes in the existing data privacy laws impact your company’s obligations and risks. Contact us today.