Can we open all mail delivered to our address? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we open all mail delivered to our address?

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Q. Our company’s mailroom routinely opens all mail before distributing it. Some employees say they sometimes get personal mail delivered to them at the office, and the company has no right to open it. Should we change our mailroom practices?

The extent to which an intrusion into personal, private matters may result in liability for invasion of privacy in Minnesota is not clear—although Minnesota does allow a person to sue for this kind of invasion of privacy.

As a general proposition, you should be permitted to review mail delivered to your offices, at least for the purpose of determining whether the correspondence is business related. If, on its face, the correspondence appears personal in nature, we recommend not reviewing it any further, regardless of whether it is marked confidential.

Invasion-of-privacy law recognizes that an “invasion” is more likely to be wrong if the invasion is made into matters or communication in which a person has a “legitimate expectation” of privacy. It is wise to have a published policy that makes clear how incoming mail is treated and that employees cannot expect that any incoming mail will be kept private or confidential.

You might also want to explain that you do not want employees using the company’s address to receive personal correspondence, that your mailroom opens all mail automatically and that the company reserves the right to review all correspondence delivered to its address.

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