It is easy for a business, and perhaps especially a small business, to overlook the importance of mobile and text message archiving and archiving of other electronic communications, such as work product stored on employee smartphones and laptops. Unfortunately, the ultimate price is all too often paid in the form of fines when cases are brought against the companies for disappearance of critical information from their records.
And while companies have an incentive to ensure proper archiving tools are installed on all employee mobile devices used for work, a 2013 case from the Michigan courts serves as a warning to employees as well – make sure you archive everything, including text messages, chat threads, social media direct messages, instant messages and the like or you can be held personally responsible.
The case in Michigan involved Barrette Outdoor living, a company that had brought a suit against a former employee, John Lemanski, accusing him of defrauding the company. Despite receiving an email notice to preserve all of his electronically stored information, Lemanski purchased a new mobile phone and returned his old device to his carrier.
In addition, Lemanski was asked to provide his laptop for imaging. Before handing it over, he deleted some 270,000 files that he claimed were personal and not relevant to the case.
The court ruled in favour of Barrette Outdoor Living, ordering compensation in the amount of $35,000 and indicating that at trial there would be an “adverse inference that Lemanski’s cell phone and personal laptop contained information unfavorable to Lemanski.” Even if Lemanski was telling the truth about all those files being personal, it would have been prudent for him to allow the courts to sift through all the material and determine that on their own.
The verdict is in and it is clear. Court case after court case is screaming out to every industry – implement comprehensive mobile text message archiving solutions!
Most companies can expect to find themselves entangled in some form of legal case. Ensuring that all work product and all client contact is properly archived is crucial to being able to produce all the evidence demanded by the courts and can be used to prove there was no wrongdoing.
Lemanski may have purposely gotten rid of information he didn’t want his former employers using against him in court, but there are many ways for faithful and loyal employees to delete or lose precious work product inadvertently. It’s quite easy to lose a phone, or when upgrading to a new device without thinking about old SMS messages left on the old device, or unintentionally damaging your phone or laptop (or allowing their children to play on their computer and apple juice spills and fries the hard drive…).
There are too many ways to lose information but archiving can solve the problem by keeping up-to-date backup of every document and message in a safe location easily accessible to be called upon when needed.