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    Questions Surround Privacy of E-mails at Work

    The New York Times has an interesting story on something most people do everyday — send a personal e-mail from a Web-based account on a company computer.

    When he was fired, Scott Sidell was angry enough. Then he found out that his former employer was reading his personal Yahoo e-mail messages, after he had left the company.

    Scott Sidell is suing his former employer, Structured Settlement Investments, saying it read his personal e-mail messages after he left.

    In a lawsuit that he filed in May against Structured Settlement Investments, the finance company he used to run, Mr. Sidell claims that executives at the company went so far as to read e-mail messages that he had sent to his lawyers discussing his strategy for winning an arbitration claim over his lost job.

    As the New York Times points out, this is a confusing area of law. “Generally, courts have found that employers can monitor employees’ e-mail communications on company computers. But courts have also recognized greater privacy protection for e-mail messages sent using personal, Web-based e-mail accounts.”

    With people using Blackberries on vacations, Skyping from home to attend a conference call, or even calling family members from the office phone, there’s a continual blurring of the personal and professional. Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a case concerning personal text messages sent on government-issued pagers. More questions will continue to be raised as technology progresses. 

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