Case Study: Age Discrimination

By: Bradley J. Bartram, Vice President of Information Technology

The Facts:

Bill had worked for XYZ Company for over 22 years. Over the last 8 months, Bill’s sales numbers had significantly diminished and he was not performing under his “employee performance agreement”.  His Supervisor issued several warnings that produced no improvement in productivity.  Bill mentioned to the HR department that he felt management was not supporting him due to his age and that more support was given to younger sales force. Bill was ultimately terminated.  The Company took the proactive precaution of forensically imaging and escrowing Bill’s company issued laptop, desktop and blackberry device.  A week after being terminated, Bill filed an Age Discrimination suit against his employer.

Forensic Findings:

At the Company’s request Bill’s escrowed data was processed and forensically analyzed.  The Corporation Counsel and HR Department was able to quickly search the Electronically Stored Information (ESI) data  and the findings showed unmistakable evidence that Bill had been spending his time for the past 8 months doing non-work related internet searches and visiting competitor web sites clearly in pursue of a new job.  A computer usage timeline was prepared which showed that between 9 and 5, Monday through Friday, Bill was very busy doing just about everything else except his assigned work.  Instant Message chat conversations were also recovered showing Bill had been communicating  most of the work day with several job placement companies.  In one recovered chat conversation, Bill bragged to the head hunter that he would be very valuable to the competitor and even copied some confidential employer data into the chat for the head hunter to see.

Bottom Line:

The Company was able to present the findings of the computer forensic analysis to the opposing Counsel at a mediation hearing and was able to defeat all age discrimination claims by the former employee.  The Forensic Escrow Image and Analysis of the employees computers literally saved the company.

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