Webmail at Work: The Case for Protection Against Employer Monitoring
27 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2007
Date Written: March 30, 2007
This paper is about privacy in the workplace. Specifically, I address the issue of employer monitoring of employee email. The law allows employers to monitor their workers' email - even when messages contain private information. However, although the law is clear with respect to employer-provided email, it is not yet defined as to webmail. That is - this paper shows that relevant statutes and court decisions generally have not yet addressed the privacy issues that arise when an employer monitors email sent by an employee via the employee's personal web-based email account.
After revealing this webmail gap in the law, I analyze the business, public, and personal policy issues involved. I cast the issue in the broader context of privacy law and societal norms. Finally, the paper concludes with policy suggestions for employers that take into account their legitimate business purposes for monitoring employee email as well as their employees' legitimate privacy concerns.
Keywords: privacy law, workplace surveillance, email, employment law, employee rights
JEL Classification: J2, J5, K31, L2, M1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation