Do you have a Facebook? Do you have your Facebook set to private? If the answer to the preceding two questions is yes, then you definitely need to read further. As Facebook becomes more popular attorneys have begun to use it more in legal cases to show the type of person you are. Two recent cases show how new ways it is being used, and these are unlikely to be the only new ways Facebook is used.
The first case, a claim under federal law that involved a female employee who was sexual harassed. Her sexual harassment claim was based a hostile work environment. The employee claimed that other employees had been teasing her about rumors of an affair involving a coworker. She also alleged that she was offended by other sexually based rumors that were going around the workplace. the defense argued that the female employee was not actually offended. The defense based its assertions on the female employee’s Facebook page. On her Facebook page, the female employee had posted “jokes” that were sexual in nature. The judge ruled that it was enough to allow a jury to decide whether or not she was actually offended by the workplace jokes. Surprisingly, The court drew no distinction between comments made in and outside of the workplace.
In a car accident case, a plaintiff claimed two of damages for severe anxiety, vertigo, and constant migraines and pain. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged that she was prevented from going on socializing with friends and required antidepressant medication. The defense sought photographs from the plaintiffs Facebook page. The Judge did find that many of the photographs were irrelevant or prejudicial. On the other hand, the judge held that some of the photographs from Facebook were, in fact, relevant to the plaintiff’s claims. Specifically, the judge allowed a picture of the plaintiff attending a party and one photo of her doing a “keg stand.”
Facebook is going to be used by attorneys to help prove or dispute allegations and character. It is important to remember that what you post on Facebook is much less private than a conversation with a friend. Just as an arresting officer would tell you, what you say (or in this case what you post) will be used against you.