On Friday, November 6, 2015, a California judge rejected a motion to compel NBCUniversal Media LLC to produce internal communications that allegedly contain an explanation of the reasons for former employee’s firing. With trial set to start in a matter of days, this is the latest move in an ongoing lawsuit by former employee Frank W. Snepp’s against NBCUniversal for wrongful termination and age discrimination.
The email in question was sent from Snepp’s superiors to affiliate human resources personnel and in-house counsel at the corporate headquarters before Snepp was fired. Snepp argued that the document was created in the ordinary course of business and not for any legal purpose such that the attorney-client privilege would apply. NBCUniversal countered that the document was created for the express purpose of receiving advice from in-house counsel. The Judge agreed, finding that the primary purpose of the document was to seek legal advice.
This case provides an important reminder to companies that simply including an attorney on the recipient list of an email will not make the communication privileged. Rather, as apparently is the case here, the communication must make clear that legal advice is being sought.
For more information about wrongful termination and discrimination claims, contact Ford & Diulio PC at 714-384-5540 or email our Orange County employment attorneys at firstname.lastname@example.org.