Today we’re examining the topic of Email Privacy in the workplace. Sara tweeted us, “Is my boss allowed to look at my emails if I log into my own private gmail account”. Great question Sara, and the answer is Yes!
Your employer has the potential to read your emails, even from a private account accessed through a web browser if you are using company owned computer equipment or a company owned Wi-Fi network. A private employer can monitor their employee’s behavior and actions within the workplace, and this includes monitoring their online activities accessed through their networks. There are no federal laws which prohibit employers to directly monitor an employee’s work computer, what activities they are performing on that computer, or reading content accessed on company owned devices.
Employers can monitor device activity, key strokes, web content accessed, and even email. So if you’re on your work computer, and access your gmail account, your employer could see what you are accessing. Now an employer cannot directly log into your gmail or private account. But if you access and read your private email from a work computer and your employer is monitoring what you are seeing, then yes they can basically see what you see on your screen.
Remember, an employer owns both the hardware they give you access to use to perform your work activities. This includes the internet access you may have access to while at work. An employer cannot directly monitor your personal devices, but if you are using the company owned Wi-Fi network, they can monitor data passing through that network they own.