Employment, Labor and Benefits Alert: Supreme Court Rules that Private Text Messages Are not Always Private


On June 17, 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in City of Ontario. v. Quon, finding that an employer —the police department of the City of Ontario, California — did not violate a police sergeant’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search when it reviewed the sexually explicit, non-work related text messages he sent to co-workers, his wife, and a girlfriend on a department-issued pager. Although the case pertains specifically to government employers, it sends an important message to all employers, including those in the private sector, underscoring the importance of a written policy which puts employees on notice that their use of computers, pagers, and other employer-provided electronics is subject to monitoring, including a review of all messages sent or received by the employee.

The important facts of Quon are summarized as follows...

Please see full alert below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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