Discrimination Plaintiffs Ordered to Hand Over Facebook Passwords
November 21st, 2017
A judge recently ordered a class of plaintiffs in a discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment case to hand over their Facebook and other social media passwords, as well as their cellphones. The court will gather and review their correspondence and submit relevant communications into evidence for the case.
The plaintiffs still have an opportunity to object before the special master assigned to the task begins reviewing the materials. The defendants began seeking access to the plaintiff’s communications after material from one woman’s Facebook page was discovered and deemed relevant to the case.
Allowing evidence gathered from Facebook and from cellphones may seem extreme to many Louisiana residents, however, it is important to remember that in the case of social media, information on the plaintiff’s pages was purposefully shared to a large group of people. One could analogize it to someone testifying about what a plaintiff said to them at a party, except by using the plaintiff’s own words the content is less subject to interpretation by the witness.
This case is an important reminder to all employees that social media outlets are not a private venue and that they should use discretion when sharing information about a pending lawsuit. Many employment law attorneys would advise clients to refrain from commenting on their involvement in a legal action and to keep their opinions about their current or former employer offline.
This is a class action employment law suit brought by female employees who are seeking damages for alleged sexual harassment and retaliation from their former employer, The Original Honey Baked Ham Company.
Source: ABA Journal, “Plaintiffs in EEOC Suit Must Turn Over Cellphones and Facebook Account Passwords, Judge Rules,” Martha Neil, Nov. 20, 2012.