“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . “

Sound creepy? Horror movie creepy?

It’s actually the premise of a (really great) romance novel.

In Rainbow Rowell’s ATTACHMENTS, an IT Geek named Lincoln gets a job where he’s supposed to manually filter through flagged employee emails. When one woman’s email gets flagged, he reads them and starts to find her charming. Soon he’s reading all of her emails–even the ones that aren’t flagged–which makes things very, very complicated. While it’s a fantastic read, the novel, which is set in the nearly-apocalyptic Y2k timeframe, begs a question–is it legal for your employer to read your emails?

The short answer is yes.

If you’re sending emails from a company email account, it’s best to assume that your employer has the right to review them. Yes, the email reading, fictional Lincoln is technically legal. Rainbow Rowell’s premise is plausible.

There are exceptions though. In 2010, a New Jersey court ruled that an employer violated an employees privacy by reading emails sent from on a company computer on her personal Yahoo account.

So before you send that email with that juicy office gossip or that off-color joke, think back on your company’s email policy. If you don’t know what it is, ask. And if you’re too nervous to ask, then play it safe. Use your company email for appropriate, tame company messages. If you want to rant about your boss, you’re much safer doing it from your personal email account and your personal computer.

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