The purpose of this policy is to establish the authority and process for initiating, implementing, monitoring and releasing Legal Holds.
A Legal Hold will be issued and enforced when circumstances, usually pending or threatened litigation, require the university and its employees to (a) suspend the normal and routine destruction of records under the process described in the record retention and disposition schedules described in University Policy 605.3, Retention, Disposition, and Security of University Records
and (b) cooperate with the Office of Legal Affairs in cataloguing and maintaining all affected records.
This policy applies to all University Personnel and covers all records, regardless of location or form, made or received in the transaction of University business.
As used herein, the terms below shall have the following meanings:
- “Legal Hold” (also known as a “litigation hold”) is described and defined in Section V.A below.
- “University Personnel” includes all current and former University employees, whether EPA, SPA, permanent, temporary, full-time or part-time, faculty, or student employees.
- “Affected University Personnel” means all University Personnel who are in possession or control of University records that are the subject of a Legal Hold.
- “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, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks, diskettes, PDAs or other mobile devices, regardless of location.
- “Electronic records” include all forms of electronic communications, including, but not limited to, email, word processing documents, calendars, spreadsheets, voice messages, videos, photographs, text messages, or information stored in PDAs or other mobile devices.
The Office of Legal Affairs is the only unit with authority to place or release a Legal Hold.
- A “Legal Hold” will be initiated when either (a) an official discovery order is served on the University requesting the production of the records in question or (b) litigation is pending or reasonably anticipated in the judgment of the Office of Legal Affairs. A Legal Hold means that records that are the subject of the Legal Hold must be preserved and may not be destroyed, even if otherwise permitted under the University’s document retention and disposition schedule (Policy Statement #37), until officially released from the Legal Hold by the Office of Legal Affairs.
- Any University Personnel who become aware of any University-related litigation, threat of litigation, claim, administrative action, other legal action, or an investigation by any administrative, civil or criminal authority (such as 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 Legal Affairs. The Office of Legal Affairs will determine whether to initiate a Legal Hold and will identify Affected University Personnel subject to the hold.
- The Office of Legal Affairs will notify Affected University Personnel that a Legal Hold has been initiated. The notice will inform Affected University Personnel of their obligation to identify and preserve all Evidence that may be relevant to the Legal Hold.
- Upon notice of a Legal Hold, Affected University Personnel are required to do the following:
- Immediately suspend deletion, alteration, overriding, or any other destruction of electronic records under their control that are relevant to the Legal Hold. This includes electronic records wherever stored, including, but not limited to, on hard drives of work station desktops, laptops, or on flash drives, CD-ROMs, memory sticks, tapes, zip disks, diskettes, or PDAs or other mobile devices, regardless of location or whether the storage devices are owned by the University or by University Personnel, or by any other person or entity. Electronic records must be preserved in a way that they can be retrieved at a later time, and the records must be preserved in their original electronic form. It is not sufficient to make a hard copy. Affected University Personnel must contact Information Technology Services (“ITS”) with any questions concerning suggested methods for preserving electronic records.
- Preserve any electronic records that are generated or received after receipt of the Legal Hold notice if such information is relevant to the subject of the notice. This must be done by creating separate mailboxes and/or files and segregating all future electronically stored information in these separate mailboxes or files, or by some other method approved in advance by both the Office of Legal Affairs and ITS.
- Preserve hard copies of documents under their control. Affected University Personnel must identify all relevant hard copy documents or files and ensure the retention of such. Affected University Personnel may make hard copies of electronically stored information; however, as set forth in item D (1) above, the information must also be preserved in its original electronic form.
- Affected University Personnel must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with a Legal Hold without undue delay by email or written memorandum to the Office of Legal Affairs.
- The Office of Legal Affairs will notify ITS of a Legal Hold and provide the following information:
- Official notification of the Legal Hold and its scope;
- Identification of all Affected University Personnel whose electronic accounts must be preserved, including user names, if known;
- Identification of the employment status of each Affected University Personnel as faculty, staff, student, resigned, terminated, or retired, if known; Identification of the department or unit affiliation for each Affected University Personnel, if known; and
- Any other information deemed relevant to ITS by the Office of Legal Affairs.
- ITS must acknowledge receipt, understanding, and compliance with the Legal Hold without undue delay by email or written memorandum to the Office of Legal Affairs.
- If Affected University Personnel separate from employment during the course of a Legal Hold, department heads unit directors, or another appropriate administrator must take possession of any and all Evidence under the control of the separated personnel and notify the Office of Legal Affairs.
- Once notice of a Legal Hold has been issued, the Office of Legal Affairs will continue to monitor compliance with this policy and any notices required.
It is a violation of law and this policy to destroy, alter, withhold, or obscure Evidence once a Legal Hold has been initiated. Violations of this policy are subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
VIII. Release of a Legal Hold
The Office of Legal Affairs will determine when a Legal Hold is to be released and will notify Affected University Personnel of the release.