Court decisions and rules now place substantial obligations on public and private organizations to preserve all electronic materials that could be relevant to pending or anticipated lawsuits and to produce such materials in the course of litigation. These obligations apply to the University of Oregon and its employees. Failure to meet them could subject the university and the individuals involved to sanctions and liability.
The scope of these preservation duties is broad. They apply to business-related electronic information wherever it is stored—on a university work station, laptop, tablet, or handheld device, and even on an employee’s home computer. This includes all forms of electronically stored information, including word processing documents, e-mails, text messages, calendars, images, videos, or any other digital information.
The rules concerning preservation of hard copies have not changed. All printed documents under the control of involved individuals must be preserved. While these preservation rules do not require the university to change any general records retention policies, they may require suspension of those policies in order to comply with legal preservation obligations, as explained in the guidelines.
The guidelines linked to below are intended to be a resource for the university community as it develops and implements policies, procedures, and/or best practices to comply with the aforementioned federal and state law obligations. Such practices or procedures may need adjustments if, for example, the relevant records include confidential student health care or survivors’ services information, pursuant to the university’s policy on confidentiality of client/patient health care and survivors’ services information. We encourage you to contact the Office of the General Counsel for any questions regarding the content of the guidelines and for further discussion of appropriate handling of specific events where document preservation, retrieval, and/or production may be required.