Stengart v. Loving Care Agency, Inc. is a new decision from the NJ Appellate Division that will reverberate among employment and business practitioners for a long time. While primarily concerned with the confidentiality of employee communications made through a business-owned computer system, it also addresses the enforceability of business policies as published in employee handbooks and the attorney-client privilege. Note that the opinion has been approved for publication, which makes it binding precedent unless reversed by the NJ Supreme Court or overturned by legislation.
The plaintiff Stengart sued Loving Care, her former employer, for discrimination in employment. Stengart communicated with her attorneys about the case using a laptop computer that had been issued to her by Loving Care. The e-mails went through a personal, web-based, password-protected Yahoo account.
Loving Care accessed the e-mails, which should have been protected by the attorney-client privilege, through the laptop. For the attorneys reading this, you will want to study the procedural details of how this happened. For those of you in HR or other positions of management responsibility, it's enough for now that you just know what happened.