In spite of growing scrutiny from courts and regulators, most employers still do a poor job of managing e-mail business records and preparing for the likelihood of e-mail discovery in court.
Only 34 percent of companies have a written e-mail retention and deletion policy. That's the same number reported in 2001, according to a new AmericanAssociation (AMA) survey of 1,100 companies.
Why is this so troubling? In employment lawsuits, e-mail is the electronic equivalent of DNA evidence, and it's playing an increasingly large role in workplace cases and regulatory investigations. A single e-mail message can bolster your case or crush you in court. In the AMA survey, 14 percent of respondents had been ordered by a court to produce employee e-mail. That's up from 9 percent just two years ago.
Bottom line: Create policy and procedures on the deletion and retention of e-mail.
- Beware the high price of foul language: Expensive trials before unsympathetic judges
- Court: Employees must give employers chance to fix errors
- Document all discipline, every complaint
- FMLA: How to Define a 'Serious' Health Condition
- Try to settle FMLA claims: Appeals court says you don't need DOL's prior approval