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Former Company and Supervisor Sued for Reading Personal E-mails

In Lazette v. Kulmatycki, plaintiff was issued a BlackBerry by her employer Verizon. Verizon told her she could use it for personal emails. Plaintiff left the company and later learned that her supervisor used the device to access her Gmail account and had disclosed the contents of her personal e-mails to others. She filed suit against the supervisor and Verizon, alleging violation of the federal Stored Communications Act (SCA) and various Ohio state law claims.  The supervisor and Verizon filed a motion to dismiss. The court allowed plaintiff’s claims to proceed. The court disagreed with Verizon’s contentions that the supervisor had authority to access plaintiff’s personal e-mails, because he was using a company-owned device. To protect against this outcome, employers should have a written policy outlining acceptable usage and notifying employees that their communications over company-provided e-mail or Internet access may be reviewed for legitimate, business-related purposes.

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