Employment Myths: The Contents of Company-Issued Email Accounts are Private

It is common for employees to have company-issued email addresses and computers from their employers — which has especially been the case during the coronavirus pandemic when many employees are working from home.  This raises an important question: should an employee have an expectation of privacy when they use their company-issued computers or email addresses for personal reasons?  

Generally, the answer is no. Although employees may feel an employer’s ability to view their personal activities is a violation of their privacy, the fact is that the company-issued email address and computer are the employer’s property, and the employer has the right to monitor the activities in which an employee engages while using them.  Therefore, the employer has the right to search and review files saved, web search history and email activity from the company-issued email address and on the company-issued computer.  

Indeed, with respect to email, many employers maintain monitoring systems in their email servers to monitor employee productivity, illegal activity, or other improper uses.  Employers may also track websites visited by employees to limit the amount of non-work-related activity that occurs in their computer systems.  Some employers also implement “acceptable use policies” which specify the activities in which an employee can be engaged on company-issued computers or communications that can be sent or received in company-issued email addresses.  

Ultimately, the best practice for employees to refrain from engaging in personal tasks or communications on company computers. 

If you have questions relating to the use of company-issued email or computers, or any other employment-related matter, contact Shavitz Law Group  at (800) 616-4000 or email us at [email protected]   

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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