Articles Posted in Computer Use

This “invasion of privacy” question is the lynchpin of a new lawsuit from two former employees of one of the largest beer companies in the world. The complaint (available here), which began in state court, has been removed to federal court in New Jersey.

David Gialanella, reporting for the New Jersey Law Journal (full article here), summarizes the facts of the case:

A year ago, five company employees, including Nascimento and Yule, exchanged a series of text messages, apparently disparaging fellow employee Alex Davis. The messages were transmitted using their personal mobile phones, and on their own time, but Nascimento’s personal phone was linked to his company iPad through the iMessaging application, causing the messages to be stored on the iPad, according to the complaint.

Afterward, Nascimento was issued a new iPad, while the old one—with his text messages and credit card information still stored on it—was loaned to Davis. Davis discovered the text messages and complained, after which Nascimento, Yule and the others were questioned by investigators hired by Anheuser-Busch, according to the complaint.

Nascimento, Yule and a third employee involved in the messaging were terminated last September for “‘violation of corporate policy regarding use of company equipment,’” while a fourth was reprimanded, according to the complaint.

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Hey, if you’re a big employment dork like me, (vote Handbook!), you’ve already read a bunch of blog posts, and you’ll read several more about how the sky is falling after yesterday’s NLRB decision, in which the Board held that employees may use company email to discuss the terms and conditions of employment.

Yes, this decision extends to any workplace — not just unionized workplaces — that is covered by the National Labor Relations Act. And, yes, it may help your employees communicate with one another to form a union (gasp!) or otherwise discuss working conditions, but…

Well, sure, you can.

But winning that case — especially if you’re thinking about a claim under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act — may be another story.


The CFAA is designed to prevent unauthorized access or malicious interference with a computer system. Often used as an employer-sword, to state a claim for a violation of the CFAA, a company must prove that an employee actually caused damage to its computer system or data. The CFAA defines “damage” as “any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system, or information.”

David H. Petraeus 2004Yeah, I know, this post would have been timely if posted last week, when the Petraeus news actually surfaced.

Well it is — err, was —  timely. That is, my Dilworth Paxson colleague, Sehyung Lee, did post “Attennnnn-tion! 4 Important Lessons From the General Petraeus Scandal” over at the White Collar Defense Update Blog last week. I just didn’t get around to reading it until last Friday and, by then, it was too late to link to it from this blog, and…

You get the point right? (I’m too lazy to offer you any original content today).

theysaid.jpgAs evidenced by the nature of this blog post and the picture on the right, it’s best not to leave me in the office alone, unsupervised, with an iPhone, and App Store credits, as I punch this out at 10:52 at night on a Thursday. (And yet, somehow, the Wall Street Journal deems me quotable).

Rest assured, everything I do, I do it for you. And, best of all, it’s all employment-law related. Love my job!

(My wife has to be cool with me using our wedding song for this blog post, right? Love ya, baby! “Take me as I am….”)

Thumbnail image for englishwig.gifSome folks — not you and me, but some folks — can watch porn at work and not get in trouble; they work in the porn industry.

When you’re an employee of the courts — a courtroom clerk, to be precise — it’s frowned upon. 

Oh, you’ll never guess what happens next. Well, maybe you can. See how right you are after the jump. Fair warning, however, this is one my less tasteful posts. And that’s saying something…

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passwordprotected.jpgHumblebrag alert.

Reporters call me all the time. It’s a wonder that I can get any work done.

Why, just last week, I was speaking to a reporter about an action recently initiated by current and former employees of the FDA, alleging that the agency unlawfully monitored their private emails. During our discussion, I mentioned another case — this one called Stengart v. Loving Care Agency — in which the NJ Supreme Court held that an employee who emails her attorney from a company computer may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those emails provided that the employee uses a password-protected web-based email account.

Ah, serendipity! The following day, I read about another case decided last week in which the NJ Superior Court reaffirmed that many employee emails are not private. More on this case and a best practice for employers after the jump…

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