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Judge Rules Facebook Communications Discoverable in Sexual Harassment Case

Last updated 5 years ago

A US District Court judge dealt yet another blow to Facebook users' privacy in a November 7, 2012 ruling that plaintiffs in a sexual harassment suit must turn over their Facebook passwords.  The case, brought by 22 female workers at Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), charges that the women "suffered from repeat and offensive unwanted sexual comments, innuendos, and physical touching by their regional manager despite frequent protests" and that "a number of the women were disciplined or discharged by the company for complaining up the chain of command about the treatment."  Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty ruled that plaintiffs' postings about the case and related issues, including some of the women's alleged "sexual aggressiveness," were relevant to the case and should be reviewed.  Critics allege that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent for blaming victims of sexual harassment as well as for online privacy.

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