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E-Mails and Automotive: A Quick Reminder

We just successfully defended a lawsuit that turned on a critical issue – are e-mails sent by an employee to his personal attorney using his employer’s computer protected by the attorney-client privilege? In our case here in Tennessee, the court held that the employee and his personal attorney had lost privilege over their communications. The e-mails could be used against the employee in the litigation and any alleged merits to the employee’s lawsuit quickly dissolved.

The linchpin issue in the court’s decision serves as a good reminder: Has your company, as an employer, expressly advised its employees that e-mails sent through the company system are not private and may be accessed by your company? That deciding factor is becoming consistent throughout a number of jurisdictions.

A company’s decision whether its employees have no right to privacy with regard to their company e-mail accounts and utilization of company computers is important. Once made, that decision must be adequately documented through a clear notice to employees and preferably through a well-worded provision in the company’s employee handbook that requires written acknowledgement of receipt of the handbook from the employees. In the event of the misfortune of subsequent litigation initiated by the employee, the simple step of properly documenting your company’s policy can sometimes mean a quick and successful end to the litigation.

© Copyright 2014 Dickinson Wright PLLC

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About this Author

M. Kimberly Stagg, Of Counsel, Dickinson Wright
Of Counsel

Counsel to numerous manufacturing companies in addressing and finding practical solutions to legal and business issues, from corporate, commercial, real property, troubled customer and supplier, and bankruptcy litigation, to general business matters.

Significant experience in production and non-production purchasing contracts from drafting and negotiation to dispute resolution. Contract experience includes all aspects of manufacturing operations and related joint ventures, outsourcing projects, and supply chain and logistics matters.

In-house lead attorney at Nissan North...

615-620-1732
Member

John Anderson is a Member of Dickinson Wright's Insurance Practice Group.

615-620-1735