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Be Careful with Work E-mail in NJ

March 11, 2009

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In <i>Stengert v. Loving Care Agency</i>, plaintiff filed suit against her employer alleging a hostile work environment led to her constructive discharge. During discovery, counsel for the defendant had a search performed on the computer that plaintiff used while an employee in order to recover any deleted information. The search revealed temporary Internet files containing e-mails sent from plaintiff’s personal Yahoo account to plaintiff’s lawyer.
Plaintiff took the position that those e-mails were protected by attorney-client privilege, and moved to restrain the use of the e-mails and to disqualify defense counsel. The Court looked to the employer’s communication policy that warned “any and all internet use and communication conducted on the employee’s computer is not private” and that also warned that all such files are considered part of the company’s business. The Court thus held that the plaintiff waived any privilege and denied plaintiff's motion.
Thanks to Denise Ricci for her contribution.
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