On June 18, 2008, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided that employers have no right to read their employees' text messages without their consent. Even if employers pay for the service, providers are prohibited by the federal Stored Communications Act from releasing the text message contents to them.
The Court ruled that reasonable expectations of privacy vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances, and that the availability of other, less intrusive, ways to monitor the amount of text-messaging services played a role in the decision.
This opinion emphasizes the importance of having good policies and procedures, including reference to when and how the employer may search, review or monitor phone calls, emails, etc. This case is only binding in AK, AZ, CA, GU, HI, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA.