Monday, June 14, 2010

Social Networking Websites and Employment Litigation: Could be a Matter of Facebook Privacy Settings

A recent federal district court decision out of California (Crispin vs. Christian Audigier, Inc., et. al., Case No. CV 09-09509 MMM (JEMx)), reveals that access to an employee's or former employee's social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace depends upon the employee’s privacy settings and, if private, the employee’s consent, even if the subject-matter of the posts is relevant to pending litigation and responsive to an otherwise valid subpoena.

The Stored Communications Act is what courts have been citing to protect employee's web content from employers without their express consent, even where management had gained access to such websites through other employees who were approved to visit the site. Indeed, even a subpoena won't help an employer in some cases where the employee has set their privacy settings to protect content from unauthorized viewers, ruled the California court.

So, without consent and without liberal privacy settings, employers face an uphill battle getting to that incriminating evidence on social networking websites.

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