Posted: Tuesday 24 January 2012
Whether you work for yourself or you are part of a larger company, you will from time to time find it necessary to send emails for work. While most people are not aware of this issue, emails have been used in courts to prove obligation, meaning that if a client or customer or even just a potential business associate can "prove" that you emailed them to the effect that you would provide a good or service for a given price, they may be able to sue to you if you do not ultimately provide that service and that price. This is of particular import for investors and other types of financial companies.
It may be tempting to think to yourself, "I'm just the administrative assistant. This has nothing to do with me." However, if you send out emails from a company email account, you need to make sure that your "bases are covered." This means making sure that any ambiguous correspondence on your part does not lead to a successful legal action on someone else's end.
For starters, ask your employer if he or she has a legal disclaimer. There may be something that you need to append to the end of all your emails anyway. If this is the case, then be sure to do so in order to protect yourself, your employer and your correspondence. If your employer does not have a disclaimer, ask them about having one drawn up. It is extremely important. In the interim, consider affixing your own at least to emails sent from your personal account simply stating that nothing in your emails constitutes a binding legal commitment.
Next, find out if there is any list of prohibited language for emails. Some employers make it a point to never talk about certain business in email. At a minimum, you should never email account information or passwords, since email systems are hacked all the time. You may have heard that Google recently found that thousands of accounts had been exposed! Since emails that you send are stored in your account history, even if you delete them after receipt or delivery a malicious person may still be able to find that information.
When it comes to legal issues and email, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Protect yourself and your employer by taking the time to find out what methods are in place for safeguarding information and how to insure that your emails do not become a legal liability for you or your boss.