With 70% of all corporate records now stored electronically, HR must make sure their organizations’ systems are set up to retrieve critical information on demand.
That’s essential if your organization is sued. Long delays in providing evidence can lead to needless litigation costs—and crush your chances in court.
Recent case: Several employees sued a California company, claiming they were due bonuses. During the discovery phase, the employees’ lawyers asked for certain documents they thought would prove the workers were entitled to the money. But the company couldn’t find some of the online documents.
Just as trial was nearing, the company located the data on company servers and turned over 17,000 pages on eight CDs. The judge wasn’t happy. Because of the delay, he ruled that the company wouldn’t be allowed to use any of the evidence to defend itself, while the employees who sued were free to use it.
On appeal, the employer was lucky enough to convince an appeals court to give it another trial since the delay wasn’t purposeful. (Jneid, et al., v. Tripole, et al., No. G039723, Court of Appeal of California, 2009)
Final note: This employer lucked out. Make sure you can retrieve your information promptly. Also, remember that if a legal claim is “reasonably anticipated,” you’re required to place a litigation hold on destroying any potentially pertinent e-mails or documents.
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