Wrongful Termination

Background
A former employee brought a wrongful termination suit against a construction company, alleging that he was not responsible for the project cost overruns that had resulted in his firing. The employee’s suit claimed that his superior directed the project into increased costs and then blamed the results on other employees. The former employee’s lawyers produced documents during discovery that included e-mails sent to his superior, several of which cited warnings of overruns and suggestions to avoid them.

Avansic’s Role
Avansic was asked to investigate the former employee’s computer for evidence of the e-mails, which had been produced in paper form since the former’s employee’s superior claimed that he never received those communications. Examination of the computer showed portions of the e-mail text within the hard drive’s “unallocated space,” which is the area on a computer hard drive where deleted information is sent.

Since the text did not appear in the former employee’s e-mail folders, Avansic recommended a review of the company’s e-mail servers to determine if the e-mails had actually been sent. After a thorough examination, there was no evidence of the e-mails found on the servers. Avansic’s research team went to work testing a number of scenarios on the server in order to determine exactly where the files could be found if the email had been sent.

Outcome
The research team’s test e-mails sent through Microsoft Outlook were compared to the documents produced by opposing counsel. During this examination, Avansic discovered that the e-mails from the former employee had been drafted in Outlook and altered to appear as if they were sent. The lack of appropriate e-mail header information and absence of the e-mails on the server showed that the former employee had forged the emails in an attempt to win his case. Counsel presented Avansic’s report to the opposing side and the suit was subsequently dropped.