Employees that work for companies that have a policy regarding computer usage and emails should proceed with extreme caution when using their company email to communicate confidential messages. If your employer has notified employees, through its website, handbook or other reasonable means , that it monitors employee emails and computer usage, then you have no expectation of privacy. This means that if you were to communicate with your attorney about matters that normally would be protected by the attorney-client privilege, it has probably been waived by sending it through a means which you are charged with knowledge that your employer may access. Emails are normally protected by the attorney-client privilege even though it is possible for a third party to view them, who has access to the server over which it is transmitted (such as a technician for the company hosting your email service). This normally does not cause a loss of the privilege; however, when a third party has notified you of possible access to your emails, this may waive that privilege. This was the result in a California state court case. The appellate court in Holmes v Petrovich Development Company, LLC ruled that the employee’s emails to her attorney were not protected and lost the attorney-client privilege. Therefore, employees should review their employer’s policies regarding email as to privacy or whether the company routinely may inspect the emails for compliance with company usage policies. The best practice is to never use your work computer for any purpose but company business and refrain from the temptation to send private emails on your company computer or email account.
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