Why should HR worry about what the IT department does? After all, you’re about people; they’re about hardware and software.
But there is one time when HR must collaborate with IT, and that’s when the system goes down. Make sure the IT department reports any such outages to HR and provides a brief explanation.
That way, an employee can’t later claim that information he needed in a lawsuit against the company was somehow intentionally destroyed to interfere with his case. You will be ready to show that any gap was unintentional.
Recent case: Stephen sued his former employer after he was discharged. He lost the case before a jury and appealed, arguing that he could have won if only he had access to emails between HR and his supervisor that he claimed went missing.
The employer explained that while there had been a gap in its email records, the mishap was documented at the time.
Plus, Stephen couldn’t point to any specific emails he believed were missing.
The court said Stephen had no evidence that anyone sabotaged the email system to destroy any documents. It dismissed his appeal. (Omogbehin v. Cino, et al., No. 11-2223, 3rd Cir., 2012)
Final note: Remember, you have an obligation to preserve any documentary evidence as soon as you learn that litigation may be pending. Have records-retention processes in place.
Note systems failures at the time they occur so they can’t be used against you.
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