10 tips for avoiding legal problems in emails

Is your organization training employees how to use email judiciously? Or is digital carelessness setting you up for a lawsuit? We asked attorneys for their advice.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Or maybe you’ve accidentally hit Reply All when you snarked about your chief executive’s latest rally-the-troops bromide.

Email is a powerful tool in business communications, but it comes with risks. An offhand joke could set you up for a lawsuit. The confidential information you carelessly forward could cost you a major client.

“There are few things as devastating as testifying under oath, and having someone read your own words at you in direct contradiction to what you said,” says Peri Berger, an attorney with the New York City offices of Harris Beach.

To spare you that fate, we’ve rounded up advice to ensure that your communicators, executives and employees are briefed on the legal challenges of email (along with social media). Here are some pointers:

1. Write a policy covering email, your intranet and social media.

The policy must explain that the intranet and email are company channels, and that means there’s no expectation of privacy, says Scott Irgang, director of labor relations and employee engagement with the global technology company Pitney Bowes. So email isn’t the channel for things employees would say in confidence, he says.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.