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Legality of H.R. mailbox monitoring?

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The main thing is to never open an unopened email, or you flip the read-bit, and the person notices that. I have been 'found out' once and it was not pretty.

In Outlook, for example, if you just click on an email, it shows that it has been read, and if it's Monday morning and random marketing messages sent on Sunday have already been read, something is up.

Or worse, if the sender has receipt confirmation turned on, then there is an email sent from the suspect to whoever sent the original email if it's opened. Outlook prompts you for this, but I think Notes does not.

There is nothing illegal about this...if you work for a company, anything that happens on the company computers is fair game.

Read your employment policy very carefully; most of them say you have no right to privacy.

The most important thing is to CYA and maintain evidence that you were acting in your official capacity and doing what the boss asked you to do.

If, by chance, the HR lady got fired or prosecuted for something, you want her suing the company, not you.