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DC Court Upholds Attorney-Client Privilege Of Emails Sent From Work

Published by on December 14, 2009

Law.com reports here on a case out of Washington, D.C., that upheld the privileged nature of attorney-client communications sent from an email account at work.  We previously posted on this issue here.  More after the break. The article quotes the key passage from the court’s decision: “The DOJ maintains a policy that does not ban […]

Law.com reports here on a case out of Washington, D.C., that upheld the privileged nature of attorney-client communications sent from an email account at work.  We previously posted on this issue here.  More after the break.

The article quotes the key passage from the court’s decision:

“The DOJ maintains a policy that does not ban personal use of the company email. Although the DOJ does have access to personal emails sent through this account, Mr. Tukel was unaware that they would be regularly accessing and saving emails sent from his account. Because his expectations were reasonable, Mr. Tukel’s private emails will remain protected by the attorney-client privilege,” wrote Chief Judge Royce Lamberth.

This decision highlights a point often emphasized by employment lawyers — it is the language of the employer’s policy that will often determine whether an employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in an employer’s communications systems (whether it be email, voicemail, internet usage, etc.).

We are confident that this issue will be the subject of more litigation, particularly given that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving the privacy of text messages by a public employee.  The Business Insider has the story here.

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