Is it legal for an employer to access your email, print it out , and confront you?

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Is it legal for an employer to access your email, print it out , and confront you?

Hello,

My employer went into my personal email, printed out my emails and confronted me about looking for employment elsewhere. Is this legal?

Asked on September 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Does your employer have a policy that explicitly refers to private email accounts? If your employer has a clear policy informing employees that their use of personal email accounts on work computers are not private, then a company can monitor those messages. Also, do you have protection against such an action under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement? If not, some courts have found that an employer who accesses an employee's personal emails is guilty of "Stored Communications Act" violations. Further, some states give protection under tort law, such as those under "invasion of privacy" statutes. That having been said, most courts find that workers have "no expectation of privacy" in the workplace. Since laws vary from state-to-state, you may want to consult directly with a local employment law attorney.


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