Email quotas are common in business. They’re used to manage the amount of data each individual uses for their email and to control email archive requirements. Anyone who has worked for a large organization will be aware of them and will know the pain of skimming your inbox looking for things to delete. Problems can arise with these quotas, because you do rely on staff to retain the right email and dump the waste.
That isn’t always an easy task and many employees will simply choose a timeframe and dump everything in that period. It’s easier, cleaner and unless it creates a direct issue it seems logical. The problem is, email evidence for e-discovery is not always obvious. In an email archive, you can seek out email records. Without an archive, you have to hope that a vital email isn’t deleted.
Let’s have a look at some of the ways email can become evidence. Each of these email evidence types could be deleted without a moment’s thought.
Proof of Knowledge or Involvement
An email address in a ‘to’ section could be enough to signal wrongdoing. In lawsuits that are designed to decide the involvement of a particular employee, evidence that they received an email could be enough to cast doubts. Alternatively, the lack of proof the email was received could exonerate. Without a defined strategy on email retention you have no control over what email is retained.
In other cases, where the ultimate proof is elsewhere, email may be used to provide character evidence or context. Almost any email could provide that context; the most innocuous two-sentence mail could demonstrate a frosty or warm relationship between employees. This background information could be vital but, once again, without any email archive strategy, your chances of retaining that email are down to pure luck.
The Smoking Gun
Some lawsuits will rely entirely on email evidence. If an employee or manager has made an inappropriate comment in an email, that mail could become the key piece of evidence in a discrimination or dismissal case. For it to become evidence, it needs to be in an email archive or retained within a mailbox. This is the easiest piece of evidence to spot, but may be deleted by the perpetrator and leave you in the dark until after the discovery process.
In each of these situations, there is always the possibility that the email will be destroyed. But an archive gives you the best chance of retaining the right email. Without an email archive, who knows?
Deleting can be a very scary thought and the consequences are even scarier. Email archiving can’t prevent you from making the mistake, but it can help you avoid the consequences.