What to do if anyone ever tries to fire you: demand to see all company e-mails relating to you.

What to do if anyone ever tries to fire you: demand to see all company e-mails relating to you.

According to this interesting Financial Times article, the tendency to commit things to e-mail that people would never dream of writing on paper appears unaffected by knowledge of the legal – not to mention reputational – trap it sets for the employer.

Charles Russell, the law firm, paid an estimated 10,000 compensation to a black secretary last month after she accidentally caught sight of an e-mail sent between two lawyers concerning her replacement.

“Can we go for a real fit busty blonde this time?” wrote Adam Dowdney. “She can’t be any more trouble and at least it would provide some entertainment!”

A shame faced Mr Dowdney later apologised for the message as being a “senseless and thoughtless joke”.

“It’s common on e-mail to find a forthright discussion about someone’s performance or about possibly making them redundant,” says Tim Russell, head of the employment group at Norton Rose, the law firm. “If I’m acting for someone, I always seek pre-determinative e-mails for proof that they’ve been stitched up.”