Protect Your Rights: Don't Use Work Email for Personal Business

Posted by: Chris

As you sit down for dinner at a restaurant down the street, you chuckle at the email a friend sent you earlier. You grab your phone to type out a quick reply. You have a notification about a work email on your phone as well, and you take a few minutes to reply to it while you wait for your friend to arrive.

You think about how much easier it is to stay on top of work after hours since you started using just one phone all the time. You still have your personal phone but rarely use it because everything is synced to your work phone. As you look back over your emails, you suddenly realize that joke you sent back to your friend went to the wrong recipient: Now you’re going to have to explain that email to your boss and a new potential client. Dinner with a friend suddenly has the feel of a final meal before sentencing.

Technology is becoming more pervasive and portable with each passing day. This has definite benefits—being able to check your work email from anywhere at any time, and conversely, also being able to check your personal email at all times of day—even while working.

But as is often the case, what is a blessing can also be a curse. A problem can arise when business and personal lines cross and you stop separating your work communications from your personal ones.

The problem is two-fold: first, you raise the possibility of including the wrong people in your recipient list; and second, you lose any expectation of privacy in the email you send from your work address (because your employer likely has the right to access those emails). This lost expectation of privacy even extends to the device you use—a work computer, laptop, or even a phone may have integrated backup features that can store messages.

There are the common-sense complications that can arise: sending mail to the wrong recipient, accidentally including protected or confidential information, or sending potentially offensive or harmful material. Even worse, mixing personal and work email may lead to legal problems such as the loss of legal privileges in a later lawsuit.

At Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C., we believe in supporting the working men and women of Oklahoma, and we provide sound advice to each and every client. If you need legal advice about your employment situation, call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880 for a free consultation.