Uebelacker v. Rock Energy Cooperative, No. 22-1833 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Uebelacker sent a former coworker (Schuman) private Facebook messages disparaging her bosses. Soon afterward, Uebelacker’s employer discovered the messages while another employee (Booth) was transferring files from Schuman’s former work computer so others could access them. Schuman was still signed in to her personal Facebook account on the active internet browser. Booth opened the conversation and took screenshots of the conversation. Uebelacker was demoted and eventually fired. Uebelacker sued under the Stored Communications Act, which prohibits unauthorized access to communications in electronic storage, 18 U.S.C. 2701(a).
The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of the employer based on the statute of limitations, which requires that suits be filed no later than “two years after the date upon which the claimant first discovered or had a reasonable opportunity to discover the violation.” The Act’s limitations period began running in January 2019 and expired in January 2021. Uebelacker did not file suit until March 2021. A vague fear of termination cannot save Uebelacker’s claim.