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Business Basics: Retention Schedules

February 19, 2019

Are you in the Driver’s Seat when it Comes to the Disposal of Both Electronic and Paper Records?

You’ve done everything right.  You have a retention policy, or what we call a disposal schedule, in place.  When both electronic and paper records are at the end of their life cycle, they’re either destroyed or deleted.

You can sit back and relax. Or can you? Sometimes your disposal schedule can actually be a hindrance. Before we look into the how and why of this, though, we want to explain why we recommend creating and implementing a disposal schedule over a retention policy.

At BiS, we’re in business to make sure that your electronic files, as well as paper records, are controlled by you from creation to destruction. Why do we use the term disposal schedule? Because not all records have to be kept forever. If you’re our customer, we want you to concentrate on when you’re going to dispose of records, instead of focusing on how long you’re going to retain them. But that’s the same thing, isn’t it? It’s a slight change in nomenclature, but if you switch disposal for retention in your process and policies, you’re more likely to be more diligent on making sure that the right records are destroyed or deleted at the right time.

Sometimes, though, it’s necessary to put your disposal schedule on hold. In fact, not putting it on hold, could leave your company vulnerable to losing a lawsuit or an audit. This exact thing happened to a company in northern Illinois. Two employees felt they were wrongly fired from their positions and filed a lawsuit. The ex-employees lawyers filed preservation notices with the Company specifically referring to documents which would be called as evidence. The company’s retention policy destroyed the documents at the end of one year, regardless of the fact that they were requested as evidence in a federal court of law. Even though the company had followed their documented retention policy, the court still found that the company acted in bad faith in failing to prevent the data from being overwritten in their system. The court granted the ex-employees request to permit the jury to make an adverse inference against the employer based on its destruction of information related to the case.  (A. Samson Pillay v. Millard Refrigerated Services, Inc., No. 09C 5725 N.D. Ill. , 2013 WL221727 N.D. Ill. May 22, 2013.)  This company learned a hard, and costly, lesson.

With BiS, we do make it possible for you to be able to sit back and relax because you know you have a team of experts working to make sure you have a solid disposal schedule in place. Having your disposal schedule automated is great, but an important part of overall policy must be the ability within your records management system to put the disposal schedule on hold for any item that requires more review, or that’s involved in a lawsuit or audit.  At BiS, we can do just that — quickly and easily. We make sure you’re in control of your files and electronic records from creation to destruction.

If you’re not our customer, perhaps you should be. Give me a call at 513.721.3453 x401 to discuss how we can take some of the worries out of life.