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.