Work Email and Privacy

Ever wonder if that naughty joke you sent around the office made it’s way to your boss? Sure, sure, it was just a harmless joke right? But perhaps the boss has been reading your email for awhile now. Huh? WTF? Yeah, it’s a work email address, you are using a company computer, and the boss has every right to check in on it from time to time. But that may soon change.

A recent court ruling suggests there are limits to the company’s right to access personal email accounts used on company computers. While initially the court ruled that accessing a personal email account on a work computer gives the employer rights to access the contents but here’s where the wrench gets thrown in. During the forensic data recovery process some of those emails involved communication with her lawyer. Ruh roh. Client attorney priviledge? Hello? Hmm, judges, what do you think? Also another problem crept up, was she accessing her Yahoo account on work time or after hours?

The floodgates would have been opened if some limits were not placed on the employer’s right to potential evidence vs the employee’s rights to privacy. While it doesn’t absolve you from badmouthing your company it does provide some cover, just make sure you have a good story as to why that evidence should be excluded when your old company decides to sue you.

The lines between work and personal time are often blurred and it’s not hard to believe that your boss can read the messages you send on your Blackberry. Even if they are personal messages to your wife, or girlfriend. Regretting any of those message yet?

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