I. Case cite
1996 914 F. Supp. 97 (January 18, 1996 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.)
Michael A. Smyth was a regional operations manager at the Pillsbury Company. Smyth had a company email account that he was able to access from work and home. Pillsbury, on multiple occasions, told its employees that all email communications were private, confidential, and that there was no danger of the messages being intercepted and used as grounds for discipline or termination.
In October 1994, while at home, ...view middle of the document...
Legal history of case
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The court was not persuaded by the arguments and granted Pillsbury's motion to dismiss.
IV. Issues on appeal.
The employee’s privacy interests against the employer’s need to discover information.
The facts that the Smyth's person and personal property weren't searched and he was not required by Pillsbury to disclose any personal information.
VI. Legal reasoning.
Did not find a reasonable expectation of privacy in e-mail communications voluntarily made by an employee to his supervisor over the company e-mail system.
Plaintiff communicated the alleged unprofessional comments to a second person his supervisor over an e-mail system which was apparently utilized by the entire company, any reasonable expectation of privacy was lost. the defendant did not require plaintiff, as in the case of a urinalysis or personal property search, to disclose any personal information about himself. Rather, plaintiff voluntarily communicated the alleged unprofessional comments over the company e-mail system. We find no privacy interests in such communications.
The defendant’s actions did not tortiously invade the plaintiff’s privacy and, therefore, did not violate public policy.