An ex-employee has discovered that his former company has kept his old e-mail and voice-mail accounts open. Does he have any legal recourse? We contacted a legal expert to find out.
Here's an e-mail I received recently:
"I don't know where to go to with this question. Please help me if you can.
After 2 years that I left my former employer, that company still receives e-mails at my old account (also my voice-mail still works apparently). This its amusing, perplexing and somewhat annoying.
Can they keep the e-mail account and voice mail open for ever?"
I contacted attorney Lawrence Graves of Coolidge & Graves PLLC, and here is what he told me:
The company/employer owns all data on its hardware, including e-mail archives. The employee has no rights at all in his e-mail identity. Ordinarily, as a courtesy, employers tend to keep old accounts active for a limited time in order to avoid rejecting business-related communications, and forward personal e-mails to the former employee. There would potentially be an issue if the employer used the former employee's e-mail to perpetuate a false impression that the employee remained with the company, but simply mining the incoming traffic is certainly within the employer's rights.
Interesting. But aside from the ex-employee's legal rights in this situation (or lack thereof), I would recommend that he call someone in the company to report the account being open just in case they're not aware.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.