A Wall Street Journal article of the same caption (above) was published April 23, 2009, regarding a case in New Jersey, where an employer obtained access to a private Internet forum where employees were disparaging the company’s managements.  The company then fired the employees involved.

It’s generally well-settled that an employee has no reasonable expectation of privacy when the employer has disseminated a notice that use of company equipment is a waiver of that right.  However, in this case, no such notice was given.  Nevertheless, it’s not clear (to me) whether a claim could be made out, if plaintiffs asserted that the injury-in-fact was employment termination.

The plaintiffs allege common-law invasion of privacy and “accessing without permission the electronic communications being stored on the plaintiff’s private group,” in violation of the Stored Communications Act, 18 U.S.C. 2701 et seq., and a parallel state statute, N.J.S.A. 156A-27. Among other counts, they allege that management “used the improperly accessed and monitored electronic communications to wrongfully discharge the plaintiffs.”

The case is Pietrylo, et al v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, No. 06-cv-05754 (D. N.J.).