May we check an employee message sent from work to his personal e-mail? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

May we check an employee message sent from work to his personal e-mail?

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Q. One of our sales managers thinks a salesperson has been e-mailing confidential customer information to his personal e-mail address. Can we review the salesperson’s sent-messages file on the company’s e-mail server to see what he has been sending out?

A. Yes, an employer can review any and all e-mails and attachments stored on its e-mail server, including an employee’s sent mail. The e-mail server is the company’s property and employees are allowed to use it in the course and scope of their employment.

You should have a policy specifically stating that you have the right to review any and all e-mails sent or received by employees that are housed on the company’s e-mail server. The policy should state that employees can have no expectation of privacy in any such e-mails.

Can we hack the salesperson's personal e-mail?

Q. The manager says he has figured out the password to the salesperson’s personal web-based e-mail account. Can we let him access the salesperson’s personal e-mail to see if it contains confidential company information?

A. No. That would violate the federal Stored Communication Act and result in substantial legal liability for the sales manager and your company.

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