Can my employer look at my emails on my work computer but in a private email account?

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Can my employer look at my emails on my work computer but in a private email account?

I got fired after a Jr. Partner got onto my work computer while I was on vacation. He pulled up my facebook account and printed personal conversations between me and others.

Asked on June 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Arkansas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You have no claim against your discharge, even if your co-worker accessed your Facebook book without your consent. That is unless you have an employment contract or union agreement specifically prohibiting this, or such action is a direct violation of existing company policy. This is because without such a contract, agreement or policy, you are an "at will" employee and can therefore be terminated at any time and for any reason (with or without notice).

Additionally, if you were on Facebook on your company computer, your employer most likely could legally access your facebook page. It has been judicially recognized that there is a lessened expectation of privacy in the workplace. Therefore, in a case such as this, if an employee is using a company provided computer, employers generally have the right to monitor an employee's web usage and to see what they are viewing and/or posting. In other words, an employer has a right to view all content, documents, web surfing, emails, etc. that are on or sent through their equipment.


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