Social Media Discovery Denied in Wage/Hour Case

In Kloppel v. HomeDeliveryLink, Inc., 17-CV-6296, 2020 WL 38895 (W.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2020) (a wage/hour case in which plaintiffs assert New York Labor Law violations and unjust enrichment), the court, inter alia, denied defendant’s motion to compel plaintiff’s social media posts.[1]This decision also addresses other issues, e.g., the discoverability of plaintiffs’ tax records; this aspect of the court’s decision is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Specifically, defendants issued a document request seeking

[S]ocial media postings, including those made on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Linkedln [sic], since May 9, 2011 that reference (a) HDL, HomeDelivery and/or HomeDeliveryLink; (b) the terms ‘job’, ‘work’, ‘contract’, ‘contractor’, ‘employer’, or ‘employee’; or (c) the terms ‘driving’, ‘delivery’, ‘transport’, or ‘transportation’.

Defendant asserts that this request is “narrowly tailored, providing certain words to be searched, and that it is relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims for misclassification and the work performed by Plaintiffs.” Plaintiffs countered that “the search terms provided by Defendant are too broad rendering any such search a ‘fishing expedition’ and that the social media postings are not relevant” and “that even if the social media postings were tangentially related to their claims that any such relevance is outweighed by Plaintiffs’ right to privacy.” Defendants reply that “any privacy rights can be mitigated through a protective order.”

The court sided with plaintiffs, explaining:

The Court agrees with Plaintiffs that any information contained on their social media accounts would only be tangentially related to this matter. In addition, placing the burden on Plaintiffs to conduct these searches is not warranted where Defendant has nothing more than its own hope that there might be something of relevance in the social media posts. Caputi v. Topper Realty Corp., No. 14-CV-2634 JFB SIL, 2015 WL 893663, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2015). [Internal quotation marks omitted.]

As such, the court denied defendant’s motion to compel responses to this discovery request.

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1. This decision also addresses other issues, e.g., the discoverability of plaintiffs’ tax records; this aspect of the court’s decision is beyond the scope of this blog post.