EEOC v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia
By Jessica Vosgerchian — Edited by Geng Chen
Equal Employment Opportunity Comm’n v. Original Honeybaked Ham Co. of Georgia, No. 11-cv-02560-MSK-MEH (D. Colo. Nov. 7, 2012)
Slip opinion (hosted by The Workplace Class Action Blog)
The magistrate judge in a sexual harassment class action against The Original Honeybaked Ham Company of Georgia (“Honeybaked Ham”) has ordered plaintiffs to produce passwords to their social media and email accounts as well as surrender their cell phones to a court-appointed special master who will review the materials for discoverable information.
The class action, brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on behalf of 20–22 women who worked for Honeybaked Ham, alleges that company manager James Jackman subjected the employees to sexual comments and groping, and retaliated against women who complained by firing them. Colorado Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty’s November 7 order marks a novel approach to the problem of how to treat semi-private online communications in discovery.
Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog contends that the court should have ordered plaintiffs to collect and produce relevant information from the accounts themselves rather than provide full access to a special master. The Workplace Class Action Blog, meanwhile, finds Judge Hegart’s plan “relatively low-cost and efficient,” and, because an independent official will screen for irrelevant information, sensitive to the EEOC’s concern that the plaintiffs’ full social media activities could bias the judge against them.