The Third Appellate District Court in Sacramento ruled last week that that a company has a right to access any email sent via a company computer and there is no client-attorney privilege when it comes to company email . In addition, The New Jersey Supreme Court recently found that email sent from a personal web-based email account was private, provided that usage wasn’t covered by a company policy. The key here was “company policy”. It’s important to read your companies policy on email and always assume anything you say or do in your company email is public information.
Although this may seem like a small deal that only pertains to those that are suing their own companies, the ramification go much deeper. Companies can now use emails to help them fight workman’s comp claims and other cases against their employees. Say you have carpel tunnel and then email your friends about your great weekend fly fishing? That could be trouble.
Many companies have now assigned the human resource departments the task of watching emails. Most companies now list their email policy in their employee handbooks which gives them the right to monitor all company emails. Employees are worried about their boss finding them on facebook or watching porn. Little did they know they were building their own case for reasonable dismissal aka firing. In summary, if you have to use email to do something personal, use a web based personal email account but even then, remember work is public and you might as well be shouting all your email with a megaphone in the employee lounge.