City of Ontario v. Quon Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Respondents, an employee and others, filed an action against petitioners, a city and others, alleging, inter alia, that petitioners violated theirrights by obtaining and reviewing the transcript of the employee’s pager messages. A district court held that petitioners did not violate the. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed in part. The U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari.


Under the Federal Arbitration Act, may a party avoid arbitration by arguing that the contract in which the arbitration clause is contained is illegal?


“Not answered. Yes. The Supreme Court held that the City of Ontario did not violate its employees’ Fourth Amendment rights because the city’s search of Mr. Quon’s text messages was reasonable. With Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing for the majority, the Court reasoned that even assuming that Mr. Quon had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his text messages, the city’s search of them was reasonable because it was motivated by a legitimate work-related purpose and was not excessive in scope. In reaching its conclusion, the Court rejected the Ninth Circuit’s “least intrusive” means approach to the issue.Justice John Paul Stevens concurred. He observed that the majority had not settled on one of the three approaches enunciated in O’Connor v. Ortega for determining the parameters of a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” He reasoned that under any of the three approaches, Mr. Quon’s expectations were not violated. Justice Antonin Scalia concurred in part and concurred in the judgment. He disagreed that the Court tacitly reaffirmed the O’Connor framework for determining whether the Fourth Amendment applies to public employees, arguing that it was “standardless” and “unsupported.”Learn more about the Roberts Court and the Fourth Amendment in Shifting Scales , a nonpartisan Oyez resource.”

Case Information

Citation: 560 US 746 (2010)
Granted: Dec 14, 2009
Argued: Apr 19, 2010
Decided: Jun 17, 2010
Case Brief: 2010