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EEOC v. Simply Storage Mgmt. - 270 F.R.D. 430 (S.D. Ind. 2010)

Rule:

It is reasonable to expect severe emotional or mental injury to manifest itself in some social networking site content, and an examination of that content might reveal whether onset occurred, when, and the degree of distress. Further, information that evidences other stressors that could have produced the alleged emotional distress is also relevant.

Facts:

On September 29, 2009, the EEOC filed a complaint on behalf of two named claimants and similarly situated individuals who allege the defendant businesses (collectively referred to in this Order as "Simply Storage") are liable for sexual harassment by a supervisor. The EEOC amended its complaint in November 2009 to sue different defendants, but the EEOC did not change its substantive allegations or the named claimants. Simply Storage sought discovery for, inter alia, two of the claimants' internet social networking site (SNS) profiles. The EEOC objected to production of all SNS content.

Issue:

Can the EEOC opt not to produce the relevant SNS communications?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court ruled that the EEOC had to produce relevant SNS communications for the two claimants consistent with the guidelines explained by the court. The Court concluded that SNS content was not shielded from discovery simply because it was "locked" or "private". It also held that SNS content had to be produced when it was relevant to a claim or defense in the case. Furthermore, the Court concluded allegations of depression, stress disorders, and like injuries did not automatically render all SNS communications relevant, but the scope of relevant communications was broader than that urged by the EEOC.

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