Litigation Hold Policy

Applies to:

Effective  Date:

Approved by:

All Florida Tech Employees

December 2021

Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, President

Purpose/Goal:

The purpose of this Policy is to establish specific guidelines for actions relative to the preservation of records, information, and data when there is a reasonable anticipation of litigation, an audit, or an investigation or when a subpoena or hold request is received.

Scope

This Policy addresses the communication process when litigation, an audit, or an investigation is reasonably anticipated by Florida Tech. This Policy details the process to issue a Litigation Hold notice so that relevant Florida Tech records, information, and data, whether paper-based or electronic, will be appropriately preserved during the extent of the Litigation Hold notice. This policy applies to all Florida Tech employees and covers all records, regardless of location or form, made or received in the transaction of University business.

Definitions

  1. "Legal Hold" (also known as a "litigation hold") is described and defined in Section below.
  2. "University Personnel" includes all current and former University employees, whether permanent, temporary, full-time or part-time, faculty, or student employees.
  3. "Affected University Personnel" means all University Personnel who are in possession or control of University records that are the subject of a Legal Hold.
  4. "Evidence" includes all records, whether in electronic or paper form, created, received, or maintained in the transaction of University business, whether conducted remotely or on campus. Evidence may include, but is not limited to, paper records and electronic records stored on hard drives of University work station desktops, laptops, personal computers, flash drives, regardless of location.
  5. "Electronic records" include all forms of electronic communications, including, but not limited to, email, word processing documents, calendars, spreadsheets, voice messages, flash drives, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks,videos, photographs, or text messages, or information stored in your tablets.

Authority

The Office of Compliance and Risk Management and the Office of Human Resources with the approval from the President have the authority to place or release a legal hold.

Procedures

It is the policy of Florida Tech to preserve records, information and data that are or will potentially be utilized in litigation, an audit, or an investigation. Litigation Holds are an exception to the standard Email Retention policy, as they may require a much longer retention period. Notice of litigation hold will be issued to involved parties from the Office of Compliance and Risk Management or the Office of Human Resources. Named parties must remain in compliance of the litigation hold until it has been released. Specific time frames will vary and depend on resolution of the associated legal matter or request. Once any holds are released, the standard policy is to be reinstated.

  1. Any University personnel who become aware of any litigation, threat of litigation, other legal action, or an investigation by any administrative, civil or criminal authority, through the receipt of notification or other information identifying the possibility of legal action or upon service of a summons and complaint, must immediately notify the Office of Compliance and Risk Management or the Office of Human Resources. The Offices will determine whether to initiate a legal hold and identify University personnel subject to the hold.
  2. The Office of the Compliance and Risk Management or the Office of Human Resources will notify affected University personnel that a legal hold has been initiated. The notice will inform affected personnel of their obligation to identify and preserve all evidence that may be relevant to the legal hold.
  3. Upon notice of a legal hold, affected University personnel must do the following:
    1. Immediately suspend deletion, overriding, or any other destruction of electronic records relevant to the legal hold that are under their control. This includes electronic records wherever stored, including, but not limited to, on hard drives of University work station desktops, laptops, or computers at their home, on flash drives, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks, or PDAs. Electronic information must be preserved so that it can be retrieved at a later time and the information must be preserved in its original electronic form. It is not sufficient to make a hard copy.
    2. Preserve hard copies of documents under their control. Steps should be taken to identify all relevant paper files and to ensure the retention of such files. Affected University personnel may make hard copies of electronically stored information; however, as outlined in item i.) above, the information must be preserved in its original electronic form.
  4. The Office of the Compliance and Risk Management or the Office of Human Resources will notify Information Technology Services of a legal hold and provide the following information including, but not limited to:
    1. Official notification of the legal hold;
    2. Identify all affected University personnel whose electronic accounts must be preserved, including user names, if known;
    3. Identify each person's status as faculty, staff, student, or retired, if known;
    4. Provide department affiliation for each person, if known.
    5. Information Technology Services must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with the legal hold without undue delay by e-mail and memorandum to the Office of Risk and Compliance and/or The Office of Human Resources
    6. If affected University personnel separate from employment during the course of a legal hold, The Office of Risk and Compliance and/or The Office of Human Resources must take possession of any and all evidence under the control of the separated personnel.

Violations

It is a violation of this policy to destroy, alter, withhold, or obscure Evidence once a Legal Hold has been initiated and remains in effect. Violations of this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Release of a Legal Hold:

The Office of Compliance and Risk Management and the Office of Human Resources will determine when a Legal Hold is to be released and will notify Affected University Personnel of the release once approved by the president.

This policy is subject to amendment.