A Labor Tribunal disqualified e-mail messages as evidance

The Nazareth District Labor Tribunal has granted [Hebrew] an employee’s motion, during proceedings against his employer, to strike off a number of e-mail messages, included in the defendants’ affidavit. The grounds for the motion were that in order to obtain these messages, the employee’s work electronic mailbox was accessed, thus injuring his right to privacy. The Tribunal commented that these days, in many places of work, the computers are connected to a network which is connected to a server, that stores a great deal of work related information, resulting from everyday work processes, including e-mail messaging.

Judge Haim Armon determined that it is feasible to regard each network user as having a reasonable expectation for privacy, and that his e-mails would not be intercepted and read, as long as he has not explicitly waived this right. It was held that lacking an explicit waiver of a worker’s right to privacy, he will not be easily seen as having relinquished his right through implied consent. This is the case, regardless if the information is legally owned by the employer.

It was pointed out by the Tribunal that a determination that the right to privacy has been jeopardized is not an inevitable conclusion, since it is not an absolute right and it should be balanced against other interests. Judge Armon concluded that although the defendants’ are requesting to use the messages for an apparent “worthy cause”, one should consider the potential harm to other employees who regularly use e-mails. Therefore, the Tribunal has ordered to disqualify the e-mail messages as evidence.