We represent employers and employees with respect to employment law issues. Often, we are asked about the privacy rights of workers to their electronic communications made at work or with employer-provided devices or using employer emails. As a general matter, employers have a right to monitor communications that occur through employer-owned electronic mail and via employer-owned systems. As such, no invasion of privacy typically exists due to employer monitoring of email, Internet usage and the like. Employees must take heed and be very careful about the use of employer-owned digital resources for personal communication.
An important exception exists due to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act , also known as the ECPA. Generally that act prohibits employers from monitoring personal voice calls of employees, even those made or received via the employer telephone system. Any monitoring of personal phone calls can exist only if the employees have been made aware of that and have consented.
These general principles may yield to particular circumstances, including consents and disclosures that may exist. Please contact us with any particular concerns in a real-world circumstance.