Is it legal for an employer to access your email, print it out , and confront you?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal for an employer to access your email, print it out , and confront you?


My employer went into my personal email, printed out my emails and confronted me about looking for employment elsewhere. Is this legal?

Asked on September 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Does your employer have a policy that explicitly refers to private email accounts? If your employer has a clear policy informing employees that their use of personal email accounts on work computers are not private, then a company can monitor those messages. Also, do you have protection against such an action under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement? If not, some courts have found that an employer who accesses an employee's personal emails is guilty of "Stored Communications Act" violations. Further, some states give protection under tort law, such as those under "invasion of privacy" statutes. That having been said, most courts find that workers have "no expectation of privacy" in the workplace. Since laws vary from state-to-state, you may want to consult directly with a local employment law attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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