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    Star-Ledger: N.J. Supreme Court hears arguments on the privacy of personal e-mails on work computers

    The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports on a case before the state supreme court concerning the privacy of employees’ personal e-mail on employers’ computers.

    The state Supreme Court today considered whether an employee who corresponded with her lawyer through her personal e-mail account on a company-owned laptop was protected by the attorney-client privilege.

    “When you have an e-mail/computer-use policy similar to the one that you have in this case, it’s as if the employer is looking over your shoulder every time you enter information on your computer,” said Peter G. Verniero, who argued the case for the woman’s employer, nursing services provider Loving Care Agency Inc.

    Verniero said Loving Care Agency, based in Ridgefield Park, had reserved the right to look at “all matters on the company’s media systems” in its computer policy — including personal e-mails to an employee’s lawyer. He said the policy did allow occasional use of personal e-mail sites, but the company reserved the right to review any information on its equipment. […]

    A state appellate court earlier this year ruled the e-mails were protected by attorney-client privilege.

    “We reject the employer’s claimed right to rummage through and retain the employee’s e-mails to her attorney,” Judge Clarkson Fisher wrote for the court.

    Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Quon v. Arch Wireless that an employer who contracted with an outside firm to transmit text messages could not read the messages unless the employee allowed the company to do so. Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported on legal cases concerning employers’ rights to read employees’ e-mail.

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