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Court Grants Employer Some Access to Plaintiff’s Social Media Posts

Lauren Marstellar filed a lawsuit against her employer, Butterfield 8 Stamford LLC, alleging sexual harassment. She claimed that two of her co-workers repeatedly sexually harassed her. She has also asserted that they watched her on a company security camera while she was changing her clothes in a private office and showed that video to co-workers. She is seeking damages based on emotional distress she suffered as a result of the co-workers’ actions.

As part of the case’s discovery, defendants requested direct access to her social media accounts or copies of her social media communications. Butterfield contended that her posts would be relevant to her claims of emotional distress. Ms. Marstellar objected to the request, claiming that none of her posts were related to the lawsuit’s claims.

The U.S. Magistrate reviewing the issue ruled that Ms. Marstellar did not have to give passwords for her social media accounts to Butterfield: “Requiring plaintiff to provide her social media passwords to defendants would constitute a wholesale invasion of her privacy, and would be far outside the bounds of proportionality.” However, Ms. Marstellar’s employer was entitled to copies of the social media materials that related to any statements by potential witnesses described in the incidents. Such requests were “reasonable and likely to lead to admissible evidence.” The employer was not entitled to all media communications that might “reveal, refer or relate” to her mental or emotional state generally.