Careless emails are costing organisations money, and reputation
Fired employees who file for unfair dismissal or discrimination could cost their former employers millions insettlement amounts if they request and obtain disclosure of electronic documents, in particular email, as partof the discovery process, warned leading electronic discovery specialists Kroll Ontrack today. Recent casesfrom the high octane world of investment banking in which former employees are seeking access to electronicevidence provide demonstrable proof of this trend.
"Email is the dominant form of communication these days, and employees frequently make casual, unguardedand often derogatory comments about their fellow colleagues. These emails can easily be retrieved and usedin evidence - even when they have been deleted," says Tom Hopkinson, a legal consultant and non-practisingsolicitor within the Legal Technologies division of Kroll Ontrack.
Says Mr. Hopkinson: "Lawyers and their clients are quickly realising that companies can hold significantamounts of emails and other electronic evidence which are just waiting to be uncovered. And with claimantsroutinely seeking seven-figure damages awards, it is entirely likely that judges in this country will soon allow anextensive search to be undertaken for such evidence."
According to Stephen Hart, an associate in the employment group at Eversheds LLP, “Employees alreadyhave an extremely wide-ranging ability to ask questions and to seek disclosure of documents, includingemails, through the questionnaire procedures in discrimination cases. With the extension of anti-discriminationlegislation, the burden on employers to search for emails and to disclose them can only increase.”
Says Mr. Hopkinson: "Companies need to ensure that their staff understand that comments which are notacceptable in public are equally unacceptable in electronic format. Indeed, comments made in email could beconsidered worse as they exist and are stored long after the person who sent them believes them to havebeen deleted. HR departments need to take a proactive role in ensuring policies are implemented andmaintained, and should seek advice from their legal advisors regarding the potential ramifications of an illconceivedemail."
About Kroll Ontrack
Kroll Ontrack (www.krollontrack.co.uk) provides legal technologies and data recovery solutions to helpindividuals, companies, law firms and government agencies quickly and cost-effectively recover, process andpresent electronic information. Kroll Ontrack Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kroll Inc. (Nasdaq: KROL),the world's leading risk consulting company. Kroll Ontrack is the trading name of Kroll Ontrack LegalTechnologies Limited.
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