Plaintiff Who Discussed Suit with Lawyer on Work E-Mail Can’t Claim Privilege, Court Says
A woman who sued her employer claiming discrimination can’t shield her lawyer e-mails in the litigation because they were sent from her work e-mail account, a California appeals court has ruled.
The Sacramento-based appeals court said the e-mail was not a protected confidential communication because Holmes’ employer, the Petrovich Development Co., had warned that employee e-mails were not confidential and were subject to monitoring.
“The e-mails sent via company computer under the circumstances of this case were akin to consulting her lawyer in her employer’s conference room, in a loud voice, with the door open, so that any reasonable person would expect that their discussion of her complaints about her employer would be overheard by him,” the court said.
Last March, the New Jersey Supreme Court protected e-mails sent from a personal account on a work computer to a lawyer. The court noted that the e-mails weren’t clearly covered by the employer’s policy, and they contained the standard warning that they were confidential attorney communications.