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Protective email practices for federal workers

You are reading this so it might be a little hard to imagine the sound, but what do you think of when you read, "Doink. Doink!" Hopefully what comes to mind is the sound effect that plays at the opening of every episode of TVs "Law and Order." And, by association, perhaps what that leads you to recall are the words of the Miranda warning: "Whatever you say may be used against you."

These are good words to remember if you are ever arrested, but they are also helpful to federal workers every time they sit down to compose an email, whether it's an initial communication or a reply to someone else's. That's because email use in the federal workplace environment is highly regulated and suspicions of misuse could increase the risk of career-ending disciplinary action.

Federal employees in Texas or any other state facing a probe for suspected or alleged misconduct, even improper use of emails, have rights at the various stages of the process. To be sure they're protected, seeking an experienced attorney's help is wise.

Of course, avoiding the possibility of such action is also a good idea. The instances of business and political scandal that have made headlines in recent years shows that email records have long shelf lives. So, in the context of proper email use, here are some practices some legal observers consider good to follow.

  • Know your department's policies.
  • Think twice and read twice before you hit "send."
  • Acknowledge that emails may be used to support more serious allegations, even if they were written with self-protection in mind.

It can be very easy to allow emotion to filter into email communication. However, left unchecked, inserting invectives or snarky comments could do more harm than good.

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