What are my rights regarding work email confidentiality?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights regarding work email confidentiality?

I recently quit my job and trained the person who took over for me before I left. I found out

recently that when she took over my position they transferred her into my old work email account so she has access to all my old work emails- 9 years worth of emails. Our 401k statements are automatically sent to the work emails along with insurance emails and just general private conversations I had with some clients. This employee now has access to see all those old emails – my 401k statements and insurance emails worry me the most.’ I know that a company

Asked on August 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Whether it seems fair or appropriate, as you evidently know, the employer "owns" your work emails, as well as anything stored on a work system or computer, sent over a work network, etc. Therefore, they had the right to turn all you old work emails over to the new employee and are not liable for doing so.
Furthermore, the law only provides compensation for actual losses or damages--not for "invasions" which don't cause some actual harm. If you have not suffered some loss due to this--e.g. identify theft, fraud, theft, etc.--then there'd be no point in taking legal action anyway: you would not receive any compensation.

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