Work Email on Your Phone? Legal Issues Abound

By Keaton Fox
|  Friday, Nov 2, 2012  |  Updated 7:32 PM CDT
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Employees who are asked to

Keaton Fox, NBC 5 News

Employees who are asked to "bring their own device" to work to connect to the company's network for email could bring up a host of legal issues.

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Using your personal devices to connect to your company's network for email or other work may be convenient, but it also brings up legal issues.

In the business world, it's being dubbed "bring your own device" or "BYOD."

Lawyer Michael Abcarian said he sees BYOD issues every day.

"What if there's a need to investigate some situation and your device and the information on your device has to be looked at by other people?" he said.

Abcarian said it comes down to the company's policy. Some policies require employees who connect to the business' network to turn over their device -- and everything on it, including pictures and text messages -- if asked.

"I want to see what's on that," Abcarian said. "We have a policy [that says] you had no expectation of privacy in any information or use. If you refuse to allow me, then, to access it when the employer asks, you might lose your job over that."

But checking company email on a personal phone isn't the only legal issue that can pop up. What about responding to phone calls or emails at 9 p.m. when an employee is off the clock?

According to the Department of Labor, that's work and employees should be paid for that, too.

"You're not allowed as an employer, generally speaking, to say, 'I didn't want you working then, so if you did, I'm not going to pay you for that time,'" Abcarian said. "That's not allowable under the law."

Abcarian said every case is different and every workplace has different rules.

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