Social Media and Email Account Information in a Sexual Harassment Case
Author: Discrimination Attorney Alena Shautsova
Be Ready to Turn Over Social Media and Email Account Information in a Sexual Harassment Case
Judges routinely ask to review documents as part of discovery in a sexual harassment class action lawsuit. However, an interesting privacy issue emerged in one particular case where plaintiffs were seeking significant monetary relief. The judge stated that the plaintiff’s social media and email account documentation was necessary to determine the relief being sought, which included back pay, emotional damages and front pay or reinstatement.
The class action lawsuit was brought by Wendy Cabrera v. The Original HoneyBaked Ham Company of Georgia, Inc. on behalf of 20 to 22 female employees who alleged claims of sexual harassment, hostile environment and retaliation. The defendant’s attorney argued that Cabrera posted on her Facebook account information that discussed financial recovery she expected to receive from the lawsuit and communications about her emotional state. Consequently, the judge called for "full un-redacted social media content, text messages, etc." from all members of the class. The judge asserted that the claimants created relevant communications to the case and shared them with others and that fact alone overrode any privacy objections. Even so, the information would be “in camera” meaning in chambers and not accessible to the public, at least during the discovery stages of the case.
If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace and decide to pursue legal action, keep in mind that whatever communications you relate through social media, emails, or text messages can become written documents for case discovery. Many lawyers advise clients to destroy web pages and other records prior to bringing legal action. You have the right to legal recourse if you are a victim of sexual harassment and consulting a New York employment lawyer can help you protect your rights.