Legality of H.R. mailbox monitoring?

By nogov ·
Have a question for all the IT veterans on here:
The Owner of the company I work for recently asked via my manager if he could be given a way to view the entire inbox of the employee in charge of Human Resources, without her knowing. I told him yes and setup through our domain/exchange the permissions so he could add her mailbox to his outlook. Recently, very "out of the blue" this HR employee asked if I had done anything to her email, to which I replied "no", as I was sworn to secrecy by my manager and the guy signing the checks.... so the questions:

1. Is anything I did illegal since she is in charge of H.R.? I assume not since a corporate mailbox should be treated as if it is being monitored anyway, especially if it is H.R. related email.
2. Is there any way for the H.R. employee to somehow figure out her mailbox had been modified? I figure no, unless for some reason the company Owner somehow sent an email using her mailbox or somehow let on that he could read her email in conversation, etc.

Thanks guys!

Edit - Thanks everyone for your replies so far. I've read them all and am going to gingerly approach the topic with my manager soon, hopefully I'll be able to just remove the outlook permissions and find a better tool through google for monitoring. Although I won't do a thing without written authorization :) Thanks again!

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the monitored person *knows*...

by RB1955 In reply to Legality of H.R. mailbox ...

Whatever the motivations of your company's management, the person now being monitored now knows or suspects they are being monitored. I used to work at a facility where every email was monitored by my former manager, and he was NOT a nice person (I am glad to be out of there too!!). I found out because he would put a physical privacy screen on his monitor so unless you were directly looking over his shoulder, you would not see anything. When he was finished with his *review*, he would take off the privacy filter/screen. I know he read emails I'd sent because he would gauge the length, tone, and content-brevity of the messages to determine when he could unload more of his work onto my co-workers and me. I know this because he slipped up one day and said my predecessor had never done the day-to-day things that the manager kept piling onto me. It got to the point that I was needing over 60 hours/week just to keep up with the work load (all of mine, and a large portion of his), while he suddenly had time for leaving work early (and often!), taking a large number of work breaks, taking 2 lunch breaks 3 or 4 days per week, etc. He was basically retiring on-the-job. And he covered most of his activities by deflection & misdirection, i.e., he would deflect performance criticism of the department by pointing at his overloaded-by-him employees as being under-performers; which is also his misdirection method. The question no one seemed to figure out was that he was the person who was perpetually hiring the so-called under-performers.
Somehow he had the IT dept automatically bcc all incoming and outgoing messages to a special folder in his email client. That way he could read the emails without my co-workers or me being the wiser. I figured it out by planting certain ideas in a few outgoing emails, and then he would take the idea and claim it as his own. I verified this three times until I was convinced he was snooping. A few unsuspecting co-workers had also told me that an idea (s) they were thinking of were suddenly being implemented by the manager... so he looked like he was a genius, but in reality he was just a thief.
This might be the mistake your company made... they read and acted on the monitored employee's email. My advice is to _always_ get the request in writing strictly for CYA purposes. Otherwise, if a legal action occurs, you won't be left twisting in the wind.

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