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· Subscribing Member
382 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know if there is a law about opening someone else's mail? Specifically, everytime I receive mail at one of my places of employment it has already been opened. I did a search of the USPS website, but couldn't find anything specific to reference it. Any help is appreciated.

· Out of the Loop
2,466 Posts
Title 18 US Code Section 1708:

Theft or receipt of stolen mail matter generally
Whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains, or attempts so to obtain, from or out of any mail, post office, or station thereof, letter box, mail receptacle, or any mail route or other authorized depository for mail matter, or from a letter or mail carrier, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or abstracts or removes from any such letter, package, bag, or mail, any article or thing contained therein, or secretes, embezzles, or destroys any such letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein; or

Whoever steals, takes, or abstracts, or by fraud or deception obtains any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein which has been left for collection upon or adjacent to a collection box or other authorized depository of mail matter; or

Whoever buys, receives, or conceals, or unlawfully has in possession, any letter, postal card, package, bag, or mail, or any article or thing contained therein, which has been so stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted, as herein described, knowing the same to have been stolen, taken, embezzled, or abstracted --

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

· Premium Member
8,438 Posts
The preceding Anthrax scare has caused some concern for employers,
but it doesn't look like it has unfavorably affected the
employee's right to USPS mail privacy, even in the workplace.

Some Case Law for you :
1. "Similarly, under Pennsylvania privacy law,
an employer is not authorized to open mail
addressed to a person at his workplace
which appears to be personal."
See Doe v. Kohn Nast & Graf, P.C., 866
F. Supp. 190, 195 (E.D.Pa. 1994).

2. "Despite the present terrorist threat,
employers should be aware that state criminal and
privacy laws may proscribe certain inspections
where mail addressed to an employee, even though
received at the workplace, appears to be of a personal
nature. In New York, for example, although employees
have no general right to privacy in the workplace,
the Penal Law provides that it is a misdemeanor to open
or read a "sealed letter or other private communication
without the consent of the sender or intended recipient.""
See Howell v. New York Post Co., 81 N.Y.2d 115
(1993); N.Y. Penal Law § 250.25(1).

3. "A letter sent by first class mail is afforded a high level of protection
against unauthorized opening by a combination of constitutional provisions,
case law, and U.S. Postal Service statutes and regulations . . . .
But there are no comparable Federal statutory provisions to protect
the privacy and security of communications transmitted by new non-common
carrier communications services or new forms of telecommunications
and computer technology."
Id. at 5, reprinted in 1986 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 3559.

I think USPS mail is pretty well protected as far as privacy goes.
e-Mail is another story. No "Right to Privacy" exists and I think
it has been challenged and defeated several times.

Hope you find the nosey little punk. :up_yours:
Have a great weekend, KK :t:

· Retired Fed, Active Special
8,899 Posts
If it was USPS mail, stamped and cancelled (Been through the mail) then call the U.S. Postal Service Inspectors. Even then, it may be difficult to attach culpability at a place of work.


If it's inter-office mail in those goofy perforated string-tied envelopes, FORGET it!!!!!
it's like E-mail, theres no expectation of privacy.
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