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Don't Use Your Work Email to Contact an Attorney

If you have problems with your employer, it is often hard to decide to contact an attorney and bring a case. Likewise, it is just as hard, if not harder, to find time during the day to contact your attorney with information and to receive updates. It might be tempting to do it from your employer’s computer, even using your work email. However, it is important that you DO NOT. If you do use your employer’s devices to contact your attorney, YOU MAY WAVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF YOUR COMMUNICATIONS.

Part of the standard attorney-client relationship is that all of the communications you have with your attorney are private and confidential. No one but you and your attorney have the right to know what you talked about in your meetings. This generally includes any in person meetings, phone calls, or emails. However, not all emails are protected.

Courts outside of New York have begun explicitly finding that communications with your attorney on devices supplied by your employer waive confidentiality. Specifically, in Holmes v. Petrovich, a California court specifically held that emails to your attorney sent from your work email are not confidential. In that case, an employee used her work email address, an account only she had the password to, to contact her attorney. When the question of confidentiality was raised in court, the court decided that because it was an employer provided email that the employer ultimately had access to, privilege didn’t apply to the emails sent to Holmes’ attorney. They analogized the use of an employer’s email system to contact her attorney to “consulting her lawyer in her employer's conference room, in a loud voice, with the door open, so that any reasonable person would expect that their discussion of her complaints about her employer would be overheard by him.”

However, the standard changes if you use your own email on an employer provided device. In the New Jersey case Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, the Court found that by using your own email account like Gmail, AOL, of Yahoo, even on your company computer, you maintain the confidentiality of your conversations.

New York courts have not specifically answered the question like the courts in New Jersey and California have, however it is important that your case is not the first one! Remember, when contacting your attorney, try your best to use your personal email and your personal computer. For help with employment law issues in New York contact us.

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