What We Can Learn From Hilary’s Email Shenanigans
Hilary Clinton has inspired me.
This morning, as I was scrubbing the home server I have so I can pick and choose which of my communications are private and which are worthy of public disclosure, I realized that her handling of email can be instructive for all of us.
The truth is, that, with smartphones, it is getting harder and harder to delineate between work communications and private ones. Ambiguity is a breeding ground for litigation. If you don’t have policies and procedures for dealing with work related emails on personal devices here two reasons why you should:
Violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act: With the Department of Labor’s decision to increase the minimum salary threshold for a supervisor to be considered non- exempt, credit unions may well be faced with situations where that branch manager who responds to work related emails late into the night is suddenly a non-exempt salaried employee. Anytime she spends responding to that email is time counted against her 40 hour work week and overtime pay.
Appropriate Record retention policies: Of course, no matter how big or small you are you should have a policy that addresses electronic storage of information; regulators expect them and If you are ever sued by an employee, or investigated be an agency, your credit union is going to expected to have policies in place explaining what information is stored electronically, how it is stored and for how long. These policies will vary in size depending on the size, complexity and legal exposure of your credit union but everyone should have one. It’s something I would certainly work on with your attorney
A good example of why is Small v. Univ. Med. Ctr. of S. Nevada, No. 2:13-CV-00298-APG, 2014 WL 4079507, at *5 (D. Nev. Aug. 18, 2014). The university was sued by non-exempt employees who claimed that their work time was not being appropriately credited in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. When they sued they asked for the production of electronically stored information including any documents and data relating to time worked, labor allocation, and budgeting. The university initially responded that it didn’t send workplace requests to private phones and made no effort to access this information In fact, additional investigation revealed that several custodians were sent work requests on personal phones. The court concluded that personal phones had to be searched for relevant information. In addition, the University was sanctioned for having inadequate electronic storage procedures.
We have been dealing with email for two decades now and the days when you could simply neglect to properly classify these communications are over. The blending of personal devices into the workplace is inevitable and you should make sure that you have policies and procedures in place to demonstrate you are addressing issues raised by their proliferation.