Ruling: Attorney-client privilege does not protect work e-mails

The one person you can confess your deepest darkest secret to without fear of betrayal is not a priest or parent, but your lawyer.

Still, be careful what you say over your work email account, as a California court recently ruled that e-mail correspondence is no longer protected under attorney-client privilege.

The decision, reached by the Sacramento Third Appellate District court in a 3-0 decision, means anything you say over your work e-mail account can be used against you in court if your employer chooses.

The ruling was prompted by a court case in which a secretary filed suit against Petrovich Development in Sacramento, California, claiming her boss mistreated her after discovering she was pregnant.

In response, the company introduced an e-mail at trial “to show Holmes did not suffer severe emotional distress, was only frustrated and annoyed, and filed the action at the urging of her attorney.”


The appeals court noted that Gina Holmes sent emails to her lawyer in confidence, albeit over her employee’s network.

As such, the court determined that while the emails were written to her lawyer in confidence, they were sent over a company owned network and therefore could not be considered private.

The court also emphasized that Holmes, “used her employer’s company e-mail account after being warned it was to be used only for company business, that e-mails were not private, and that the company would randomly and periodically monitor its technology resources to ensure compliance with the policy.”


(Via Wired)