The “Everything About Me” Folder

March 21st, 2013 by JBWK

In a startling decision a few weeks ago, a Colorado federal judge sanctioned the EEOC for failing to turn over a virtual “Everything About Me” folder for every plaintiff participating in a sexual harassment class-action case.

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The EEOC, which filed suit on behalf of a class of female employees allegedly harassed by a manager, initially resisted the defendant company’s discovery requests for social media, email, blog, and text messaging access. In November of 2012, the court ordered every plaintiff to turn over:

  • Any cell phone used to send or receive test messages from January 1, 2009 to the present
  • All necessary information to access any social media websites used by a claimant during the same time
  • All necessary information to access any email account or blog or similar internet location used for communicating with others or posting pictures during the same time

The judge acknowledged the incredible scope of the request while brushing aside privacy concerns, ruling that the plaintiffs opened themselves up to discovery by participating in the lawsuit and claiming that they were mentally distressed during that time frame. The company wanted the information to see whether that claim was is true. 

In ordering all of the information to be released to a special master, who will review it for relevancy before turning it over to the judge, the court said it was no different than a plaintiff keeping a physical “Everything About Me” file, which would unquestionably have to be turned over in discovery.

Still, the shocking scope ought to make anyone think twice about how their electronic trail could come back to haunt them.

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