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Think your employer can simply monitor the employees’ email, website visits, and other electronic communications? Well, employers do have important legal rights to monitor certain activities in the name of security, employee productivity, and the like. Workers also have important enforceable privacy rights. For example, the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the federal Wiretap Act, and the Stored Communications Act render many employer monitoring practices illegal, including certain monitoring of emails, instant messages and other Internet activities. If a violation of the law is proven, an aggrieved person may be entitled to compensation in amounts upwards of 10 thousand dollars per violation, plus punitive damages and attorney’s fees. For an employer with several hundred employees that could mean a multimillion dollar lawsuit if the monitoring is found to be legal. However, there are important exceptions to these rules authorizing the employer to monitor emails and other electronic messages stored in its own system, or in the course of ordinary business. Employers should thoroughly consult legal counsel before the IT department implements a monitoring system, and should fully describe the program to employees prior to implementation.