Employer's Electronic Communications Policy Did Not Allow Company to Review Employee's E-mail Exchange with Her Attorney


In a case of potentially great significance to all employers with electronic communications policies, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently held in Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. (No. A-3506-08T1, June 26, 2009), that an employer was not entitled to read e-mails exchanged between an employee and her attorneys through her Yahoo! account, even though the emails were stored on the employee's company-issued laptop. The court relied principally on confusion over whether the employee had received the employer's computer use policy and on ambiguities in the policy. However, the court went on to hold that even if the policy had satisfied all of the court's concerns, the policy still would not have justified the employer's action. The court went even further to suggest that, in most circumstances, employers cannot rely upon an electronic resources policy to justify reviewing the content of employees' personal e-mail stored on the employer's electronic resources.

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