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Emails Sent From Work May be Discoverable in Your Divorce!

Jul 14 | 2020  by

Recently, a Michigan Court of Appeals panel ruled that a divorcing employee may not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to emails sent from his work computer to his divorce attorney.

Hereby establishing a framework for trial courts to reference when deciding on this issue. The court took two main factors into consideration for this decision: 1) determining whether the employer maintains a workplace policy specifically detailing the proper use of their computer systems, and 2) if the employee (“David”) had received a proper notification or was made aware of the employer’s policies on computer privacy and monitoring.

While the court states that, “The policy, in this case, cannot be clearer, and to the extent that David was made aware of the same, is sufficient evidence that can extinguish any expectation of privacy [he] may have had.” It is still unclear whether David had been properly notified of the employer’s policy. “There appears to have been no inquiry into that issue… a footnote in [David’s] brief on appeal, at the very least, suggests the possibility that [he] may never have been asked to read or sign the employee manual that puts forth the relevant policy.” With this in mind, the Court had remanded the case for consideration of David’s awareness of his employer’s policy, and with this new framework in mind, will decide whether David had a reasonable expectation of privacy using his employer-provided email.

From a family law perspective, it is of the utmost importance to never send emails from your work accounts. Attorney Katherine Krysak Frampton (kkrysak@fb-firm.com) is here to service you in all of your family law matters.