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Old 06-23-2009, 05:01 PM   #1
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Default At work computer Legal Question

I apologize in advance as I know this is a bit off topic.

I work as an administrative assistant to the president for a mid-size Engineering firm. I am on vacation and I have given my AD credentials to my co-worker (Kate) and another co-worker (Steph) in my absence. Kate is the primary user in my absence, and Steph would take Kates place in the event that Kate and I be absent.

Kate left for lunch and left and did not lock the computer. So Steph took it upon her self to look through personal e-mails (sent to & from my company e-mail account) and forward every single one of them to her personal e-mail account for whatever purposes.

Is there anything I can do? ( I know technically I should not be sending e-mails from my company account)
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: At work computer Legal Question

I am no lawyer mind you, but I believe all email that you send and received from an employer's computer is subject to their scrutiny. So, as I understand it, any personal email sent or received from your computer at work is no longer private. (Not that email is very private to begin with. If you wouldn't write it on a post card, you shouldn't put it in an email, unless it is encrypted.) That is why I would recommend never using a work computer for personal email. As far as a co-worker access, as long as they were authorized to use the computer and computer account, I don't see that there is a lot you can do. You might confront her about it.

[edit]

Vampist brings up a good point. If any of the emails were work related then she may have been violating company policy.
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: At work computer Legal Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Accentrix View Post
I apologize in advance as I know this is a bit off topic.

I work as an administrative assistant to the president for a mid-size Engineering firm. I am on vacation and I have given my AD credentials to my co-worker (Kate) and another co-worker (Steph) in my absence. Kate is the primary user in my absence, and Steph would take Kates place in the should Kate and I be absent.

Kate left for lunch and left and did not lock the computer. So Steph took it upon her self to look through personal e-mails (sent to & from my company e-mail account) and forward every single one of them to her personal e-mail account for whatever purposes.

Is there anything I can do? ( I know technically I should not be sending e-mails from my company account)
Fire her for stealing company confidential information?
Her just reading it is one thing. But because she forward it all to her account. You got her.
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: At work computer Legal Question

OK, first, if it was sent from your company there should be some kind of email trail somewhere so that you can prove that the emails were sent, and what time they were sent.

second, this is undoubtedly illegal, the specific laws of what country you are in should deal with this more in depth.

I should imagine that unauthorised use of company email like this would be covered by her contract of employment.

The first thing that you should do is contact the police, and speak to a superior in our company.

your company should talk to her and find out what she has done, you should be able to present the proof of what she has done to your company, they should take disciplinary action.

The police should be able to help you out with regards enforcing that she deletes the emails that she has sent to herself.

you say that she's been looking at personal emails, though you don't specify if any of these are work related or strictly personal.

you should also be aware that the other person , (kate) may also be facing some kind of disciplinary action, for failing to secure the computer when she wasn't at it, and at the same time you may face disciplinary action for giving out your account details.

On top of this, I fail to see why you had to give out your login details.
from a purely professional point of view your account should not be used to administer any systems, you should have a separate administrative account for this and our account should be locked down anyway.

(I don't know what the repercussions of this would be for you).

basically what I've outlined above could be quite grim, so there are two courses of action...

either you go to the authorities, (in this case, your boss and the police), your boss can deal with this internally, and the police, (with due process) can order that she deletes the emails that she's stolen.

though this can lead to her, (steph) loosing her job.
your other co-worker (kate) facing disciplinary action, and likely you facing disciplinary action too.

your other choice would be to take the co-worker (steph) aside, explain that you know what she has done, and tell her that you'll 'out her' unless she logs on and deletes the emails in front of you...

-though bear in mind that she could then report you for threatening her...


it's a very difficult situation, arguably you should be able to trust your co-workers, but the situation is very much of your own making.



Was there anything incriminating (to you, your co-workers or your company) in the emails?
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Old 06-24-2009, 05:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: At work computer Legal Question

Really any legal ramifications of this are very much dependant of where you are

However what i would say is any Legal action could be compromised based on the fact that you let steph have access to your acount anyway and so technically she didnt do anything unlawful in gaining access to these Emails . And with the emails being sent to and from your companies email system they arent actually your property and in some countries i know the UK being on you cant actually steal information as it is not considered property

Personally i would just have a word with her making her delete the emails and dont give her your account details again , bearing in mind if these Emails are so private that you didnt want anyone to read them in the first place involving any legal process or your employer means they are also most likely going to require copies of the E mail in question for evidence
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: At work computer Legal Question

I don't think you will get far legally, theres to much of this petty cyber crime nowadays for the legal system to cope
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