The Scary Truth About Emails
Imagine if Moses
took less care and attention in writing the Ten Commandments and
instead of etching stone tablets, he sent out an email. Instead of
scribing, “thou shalt not steal” he wrote, “thou shalt not steal” or
“thou shalt not cover thy neighbor’s wife.” How would people
interpret what he meant? If your neighbor’s wife were found
shivering in the prairie hillside, you wouldn’t give her a blanket?
How are your
emails being interpreted? Did you know that poor email management
has contributed to numerous lawsuits? Courts are sequestering emails
as part of discovery and failure to comply has resulted in case
losses and numerous fines. Some of the court-ordered emails have
included everything from personal notes to friends and families,
forwarding of jokes, sexually explicit content, and anger-written
emails that can fuel a libel case.
The following are
just a handful of court cases where emails were used for discovery:
UBS Warburg LLC, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13574 (S.D.N.Y., July 20,
& Peters Ins. Servs. v. Riley, 2003 WL 245586 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb
Ashcroft, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172 (D.D.C. January 9, 2003)
Entertainment, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc., 2002 U.S.
Dist. LEXIS 488 (S.D.N.Y.), motion denied, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
Enterprises, Inc. v. Welles, 60 F. Supp.2d 1050 (S.D. Cal. 1999)
Inc. v. Hasbro, Inc., 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16355, 1995-2 Trade
Cas. (CCH) P71218 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 3, 1995)
The United States
has enacted legislation regarding email correspondence with respect
to preservation, retrieval, and audits. For example: all pertinent
emails have to be preserved for no less than six years and must be
easily accessible during the first two years. Legislation includes
both original and duplicate emails. In Canada, emails fall under the
umbrella of business documents.
themselves, companies need to create an email policy. With the help
of computer technicians, staff, and basic organization skills,
effective email management – including the prioritizing of emails
and knowing what and when to back up to storage and easy retrieval –
will improve customer service. It’s just good business practice and
can save companies from grief should they ever be taken to court.
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