New Jersey Supreme Court Addresses Issues of Email Privacy at Work

On March 30, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a landmark – and eminently reasonable – decision in Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc., 2010 N.J. Lexis 241 (N.J. 2010), holding that an employee’s e-mail communications with his or her lawyer were confidential – when the e-mail was stored on a private web-based e-mail account. By reading e-mail that was – at least arguably – privileged and failing to promptly notify the employee/plaintiff, the employer violated the employee’s right to privacy, and counsel violated N.J. R.P.C. 4.4(b). This is a critical decision that is likely to be cited by courts and ethics authorities throughout the country. We will address Steingart in subsequent postings.