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Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: How to Read the Litigation Hold Messages to Faculty

The CSU has been named in a number of lawsuits from students and classes of students who seek refunds of fees paid for instruction and services in this time of COVID-19 and campus closures. Because of the lawsuits, CSU administrators and employees are admonished not to destroy records that the plaintiffs may seek in the course of discovery. Records include email, syllabi, exams, other digital and printed documents, as well as Zoom or class recordings that faculty make.

Unfortunately, the messages sent to faculty vary from campus to campus in tone and content, leaving some faculty to worry that there is more going on than a simple directive to not destroy evidence.

Right now, nothing is being collected. The hold is in place in anticipation of discovery demands.

The CSU plans to fight the discovery moves in the course of litigation. Not only is such a broad production of information unnecessary, it causes both faculty and students to feel like they are under surveillance. In other words, it impedes learning. Nevertheless, for now, everything must be preserved.

For instances in which the CSU must provide documents connected to faculty instruction, the CSU’s lawyers will fight for protective orders so that documents and records are not shared in public, but instead seen only by parties, attorneys, and the judges overseeing the cases.

The litigation hold does not require faculty to record their classes, although they may for the sake of student schedules or in the course of providing reasonable accommodations.

CFA does not expect management to use Zoom recordings for any other purposes (like evaluations or to reuse content without the permission of faculty). Should we discover misuse of records that are subject to the litigation holds, we will fight vigorously on behalf of faculty. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your chapter leaders.

Want to learn more? Become active with your local CFA chapter Faculty Rights team. Find your representative here.