A federal court last week struck down an employment discrimination defendant’s attempt to obtain broad-ranging discovery from plaintiff in her Title VII gender discrimination, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and retaliation case.
The court’s decision in Kennedy v. Contract Pharmaceutical Corp. is here.
Social Media Document Requests
In Kennedy, the court rejected defendants’ attempts to compel the production of a number of documents relating to plaintiff’s use of “social networking sites”, such as
- “[a]ll documents concerning, relating to, reflecting and/or regarding Plaintiff’s utilization of social networking sites,”
- “[a]ll documents, including, but not limited to postings, concerning, relating to, reflecting and/or regarding Plaintiff’s expression of an emotional feeling while utilizing a social networking site,” and
- “[a]ll documents, including, but not limited to postings, concerning, relating to, reflecting and/or regarding Plaintiff’s employment with Defendants while utilizing a social networking site”.
The court sustained plaintiff’s objections on the ground that all of these requests were “vague, overly broad, and unduly burdensome” because they were not sufficiently specific and there was “no effort to limit these requests to any relevant acts alleged in this action.”
Too Many Interrogatories
The court also agreed with the plaintiff that although defendants served only 16 numbered interrogatories – “interrogatories” are simply written questions – they contained 27 subparts and therefore exceeded FRCP 33(a)(1)‘s limit of 25.
Depositions More Appropriate Than Interrogatories For “Narrative” Information
Next, the court rejected defendants’ attempt to obtain, via interrogatories, “narrative information that may more readily be developed at a deposition”.
This included requests for plaintiff to
- “identify the nature of and describe the allegedly discriminatory and harassing conduct” and
- identify “persons present, dates and locations where discriminatory acts occurred and the circumstances relating to any reporting”.