If I quit my sales position for a small business and also created the website and emails for the owner, may I delete my email account before I quit?

I am worried he may be shady and use my email address and pretend to be me to do improper business deals. Since I am the one who built the website, and he refers to me as his “IT guy” do I have a right to delete the my company email account before quitting so that he can’t pretend to be me?

Asked on November 6, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you may NOT do this if you're talking about your email account for the business (e.g. an email account "@businessname")--if it's your personal gmail or aol or etc. account, do with it as you please.

The business email account is not really "yours"--it belongs to and is for the benefit of the business. The content on or in it is the business's; also, as a communications channel, it's for people to communicate with the business (through an employee of that business). A business can legitimately keep a former employee's account open for months, forwarding messages sent to that employee to whomever has taken over for him or her. Deleting the account will destroy content owned by the business and impair its business communications with people trying to reach the business through you. If you delete it, you could face liability.

Note that if the company does impersonate you, it or the employees/supervisors doing so could face civil, and possibly even criminal, liability for identify theft.

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