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California court sides with employee in wrongful termination case

An appellate court has decided to uphold a prior ruling in a case involving the deletion of emails. An IT employee at a California school refused to mass delete emails from the server, which she says resulted in her wrongful termination from her position. A recent news story gives more details about the case.

The woman defied an order to delete the email archive system at the school in 2012 due to her belief that deleting the emails would be a violation of state rules and regulations. She was later fired, which she claimed was retribution for her refusal to obey the command. A jury agreed, and awarded her over $1 million in 2015. 

The case was appealed, and the appellate court upheld the decision. The case has incurred large legal fees for both the plaintiff and the defendant, with both sides spending around $800,000 each. The school district has not yet come out to say that it is ready to pay the $1 million award. Reportedly, the board is weighing available options with its legal team to decide the next steps. The school district maintains that the employee was fired due to hacking and snooping in employee email accounts, which the board deems a justified reason. 

The California case has brought a light to policies about email retention. Schools are claiming they are losing money storing archives of irrelevant emails. At least one employee will no longer be worrying about email storage after her wrongful termination. Other workers who feel that they have been met go by employers for unfair reasons have the right to seek an attorney who will be able to use his or her knowledge and experience to fight for justice. 

Source: voiceofsandiego.org, "Court Sides With District Employee Who Balked at Order to Purge Emails", Ashly McGlone, July 25, 2017

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