Invading an employee’s privacy without a valid reason can potentially violate federal wiretapping laws. Employers can monitor employee emails with consent or a legitimate reason related to the ordinary course of business.
Legitimate reasons include:
Responding to a colleague’s harassment complaint,
Data leak investigations
Checking the quality of the computer system, or
A government agency has requested documents.
Business email systems can copy email messages to ensure employee productivity, legal use, and other potential issues. Potential liable issues can be prevented through the screening of employee emails.
A situation where an employee’s email can cause legal issues for the company is when said employee communicates with someone outside the company. The recipient of the email may assume the employee’s comments reflect the beliefs of the company, causing potential issues.
Avoid Looking Like a Snoop
Nobody likes having his or her privacy invaded. One way to avoid this is inform the employees of potential email monitoring. Providing your employees with a written policy related to email will help avoid potential issues. Following a careful read-through of the document, have them acknowledge their understanding of the policy.
Clarify the following:
Situations where employee work emails are private
Situations where they are not private, a list acceptable email uses
People legally allowed to review emails
Situations when employee emails can be read (specify circumstances).
Remind employees to use common sense when sending emails at work. To make things simple, tell employees to avoid negative laced messages or photos that a mother would find offensive.