EEOC Plaintiff Must Disclose Passwords to Former Employer


A Colorado federal judge ordered that a person suing her former employer must provide all of her cell phone messages, social media passwords, and passwords to access any of her email accounts or blogs for the judge’s in camera review.

The former employee, along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sued The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia, Inc. alleging sexual harassment, hostile environment, and retaliation under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In requesting the messages and passwords, the defendant argued that the plaintiff “utilized electronic media to communicate” with other plaintiffs and discussed her emotional state and other topics on the Internet.

The judge found that the information requested may be compared to a file folder titled “Everything About Me,” which the plaintiff shared with others. “If there are documents in this folder that contain information that is relevant or may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence relating to this lawsuit, the presumption is that it should be produced,” the judge wrote. “The fact that it exists in cyberspace on an electronic device is a logistical and, perhaps, financial problem, but not a circumstance that removes the information from accessibility by a party opponent in litigation.”

The opinion noted that the plaintiff “posted on her Facebook account statements that discuss her financial expectations in the lawsuit; a photograph of herself wearing a shirt with the word ‘cunt’ in large letters written across the front (a term that she alleges was used pejoratively against her, also alleging that such use offended her); [and] musings about her emotional state” and her post-termination life.

The judge required the plaintiff to make the information available to a special master to review before the judge’s inspection.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al. v The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia, Inc., D.C. Colorado, No. 11 CV 2560, issued November 7, 2012.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Balough Law Offices, LLC | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.