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Eight Tips to Stay Out of E-mail Trouble

July 1, 1998
Related Topics: Technology and the Law, Policies and Procedures, Featured Article, Technology
Be careful about what you and your employees write. Memorize these facts to help your company stay out of trouble:

  • Legally archived or deleted messages can be acquired by a court of law or government agency in regard to antitrust, discrimination, termination or copyright infringement investigations.
  • E-mail is not the place for discussing sensitive issues, such as suspicions, employee performance, hiring or firing. If you do use this venue for such issues, always consider it a formal and permanent form of communication.
  • Stating a negative opinion or feeling about an employee while using e-mail lends merit in a legal proceeding related to discrimination or termination.
  • Prosecuting attorneys count on the fact that your e-mail archives will be ripe with incriminating information. They want you to be careless with your e-mail—disappoint them.
  • Certain comments, suggestions and even graphics delivered by e-mail to others can give merit to a harassment claim.
  • Be careful what you write about others. You can’t control who will read your documents.
  • Downloading and viewing graphics that are personal in nature are not appropriate at work.
  • Common sense will usually tell you what you should or should not do. If you even wonder if something is inappropriate—don’t do it.

SOURCE: American Media Inc., West Des Moines, Iowa

Workforce, July 1998, Vol. 77, No. 7, p. 40.

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