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Employees Do Not Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in Emails Sent Over an Employer's Electronic Communications System

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Smyth v. Pillsbury Co., 914 F.Supp. 97 (E.D. Pa. 1996) (0 other reports)

Author: Jessica Sussman

In Smyth v. Pillsbury Co., +914 F. Supp. 97 (E.D. Pa. 1996), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania considered whether an employee had a reasonable expectation of privacy in emails sent over an employer's email network.

Pennsylvania common law recognizes tortuous invasion of privacy. Encompassed in invasion of privacy is the tort of intrusion upon seclusion. Liability for intrusion upon seclusion only attaches when the intrusion is substantial and would be highly offensive to the reasonable person. In determining whether an alleged invasion of privacy is substantial and highly offensive to the reasonable person, courts adopt a balancing test that balances the employee's privacy interest against the employer's interest.

In Smyth, the district court determined that the employee did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when sending unprofessional emails over his employer's email system and thus failed to establish a wrongful termination claim in violation of public policy based on his termination.