Monday, May 31, 2010
E-Mail Sent From Employee's Yahoo Account On Company Computer Protected By Attorney Client Privilege
Do employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy on an employer's computer. We know that the answer is generally no. What if the employee sends an email from his private Yahoo account to his lawyer on that computer? Can the employer read it? That was the subject of a very interesting N.J. Supreme Court decision which held that the answer is "No." An ABA Journal Blog about this case states:
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that attorney-client privilege protects e-mail discussing a possible employment lawsuit that was transmitted on the corporate laptop of the would-be plaintiff.
Sending and receiving personal, password-protected e-mails on a corporate laptop did not eliminate the attorney-client privilege that protected them, the court ruled in its opinion (PDF). The Legal Profession Blog, the New Jersey Star Ledger and the New Jersey Law Journal covered the ruling.
The opinion could influence workplace privacy rules across the country, lawyers told the Star Ledger.
Lawyers from the Newark law firm of Sills Cummis & Gross in Newark had read the e-mail after the employee, Marina Stengart, quit her job as a nursing manager, filed suit and turned in her computer. Sills Cummis represented Stengart’s employer, a home health care company called the Loving Care Agency. The law firm found the e-mails during a forensic analysis of the laptop.
Law review commentary is needed with respect to this important issue. A copy of this important decision is available here.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein
Hat Tip: Kevin Harren, Esq.