Cyber Privacy Wars: The Employer Strikes Back


Distinguishing Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, a California Appellate Court Holds That An Employee's E-mails With Her Personal Attorney Sent Through The Employer’s Workplace Computer Are Not Protected By The Attorney-Client Privilege

In a widely discussed decision issued last year, Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in her e-mail communications exchanged with her personal attorney through her web-based, password-protected, Yahoo! e-mail account using her employer's computer.

Recently, in Holmes v. Petrovich Development Co., LLC, a California appellate court ruled that e-mails sent by an employee to her attorney from a company computer were not privileged. According to the appellate court’s opinion, plaintiff Gina Holmes started working for Petrovich Development Company in June 2004. Ms. Holmes later told her supervisor, Paul Petrovich, that she was pregnant. Ms. Holmes' subsequent communications with Mr. Petrovich regarding her pregnancy left her feeling as though her position was in jeopardy. Mr. Petrovich shared his communications with Ms. Holmes with his colleagues, and when Ms. Holmes learned this she felt as though her rights were violated.

Ms. Holmes then e-mailed her personal attorney using her employer’s email system and computer. After sending these emails, she deleted them from her work computer. She then quit her job and sued the company, alleging claims for hostile work environment harassment, constructive discharge, violation of her privacy rights, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court granted the company’s motion for summary adjudication against the claims for hostile work environment, retaliation and constructive discharge.

Please see full article below for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

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.

© Fisher Phillips | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Fisher Phillips on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.