(Authored by Office of Legal Affairs, 2010-03-29)
University resources are for the conduct of the University's business. This includes offices, desks and IT resources. Accordingly, the University has the right, when an employee is unavailable due to illness, vacation, suspension or termination, to look in these areas for work related materials in order to avoid interruption of University business processes.
However, the University also allows its employees to make incidental use of University resources. Just as an employee may keep a copy of their tax return in their desk drawer, they may keep files and folders on their University computer and use their University email account for personal purposes. This gives employees a reasonable expectation of privacy that their personal materials will remain private.
In those instances when a University official has a business reason to look at files, folders or e-mails of an employee, for example, to ensure that deadlines are not missed and work flow is not interrupted, and has received appropriate approval from the respective department head, Human Resources, or Legal Affairs, the following protocol should be observed, regardless of medium. This protocol would apply to hard copy files in a desk drawer and electronic media equally:
All requests for such information from ITS managed systems can be sent by the respective department head to the Information Security Office.
  1. Obvious work related materials may have the content reviewed and may be reassigned, forwarded or otherwise dealt with in the normal course of business. For example, a file labeled "office products purchase orders" could be treated in accordance with this paragraph.
  2. Materials that are obviously personal and not work related, e.g., a file labeled "My medical records" may not be reviewed in the first instance.
  3. Materials which cannot be determined to be either personal or work related based upon the file name may be reviewed unless and until it is determined they are personal, at which point the reviewer must immediately cease reviewing the materials and treat them in accordance with #2, above. If they in fact turn out to be work related, they should be treated in accordance with paragraph #1, above. A file marked "outgoing correspondence" could be reviewed to determine if this meant personal or University business related correspondence.