Monday, July 18, 2016

Court permits use of employee’s own racist Facebook posts in race-discrimination case

I read with interest this morning’s post on Eric Meyer’s Employer Handbook Blog, entitled, Court says employee’s Facebook page on race stereotypes is fair game at trial. The post discusses a recent federal court decision which permitted an employer to impeach at trial a race-discrimination plaintiff with her own racial Facebook posts.
No doubt that some of the comments on plaintiff’s Facebook page are prejudicial to her case. Indeed, some of plaintiff’s comments on her Facebook actually support the claims she asserts in this case and plaintiff has used these posts to substantiate her claims. … It also relates to whether plaintiff was offended by such conduct at work and whether this conduct forced her to resign since she herself participated in comments containing racial stereotypes and jokes on her Facebook page which were, in part, insensitive and demeaning. …

[T]here is evidence in this case that at times plaintiff initiated and engaged in racial jokes and comments while at work with co-workers. … [T]he comments made by plaintiff and the comments liked by her on her Facebook page can be used by the Hospital to challenge her credibility at trial. As mentioned, the credibility of the witnesses is for the jury to weigh. This evidence is also relevant to whether plaintiff truly found the comments made by co-workers as offensive and unwelcomed. 
Here’s my question. How is this different than impeaching a sexual-harassment plaintiff with her provocative clothing, or personal pornography habit? Just because one finds some sexual or racist content unoffensive doesn’t mean that one welcomes all such content, especially at work.

Food for thought, and another reason why employees need to be extraordinarily careful with what they share via social media.