Home Depot denied full access to ex-employee’s Facebook

Judge ruled that the corporation's request for all posts revealing "significant emotion" was too broad.

Mar 3, 2020, 2:35 am*


Fidel Martinez 

Fidel Martinez

Former employers cannot have general access to all your social media accounts should you sue them in court, a federal judge in California ruled earlier this month.

Danielle Mailhoit was the general manager at a Burbank, Calif., Home Depot for over a decade before she was terminated from her position in 2010. Mailhoit filed a lawsuit in May 2011 alleging that she was unlawfully fired because of her gender and disability. Mailhoit suffers from vertigo and claims that her employer never made reasonable arrangements for her condition.

As part of their defense, attorneys for Home Depot asked Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal of the United States District Court for the Central District of California to force Mailhoit to grant them access to her social media activity dating back to October 2005. Specifically, they were seeking any and all posts, updates, and photos that “reveal, refer, or relate to events that could reasonably be expected to produce a significant emotion, feeling, or mental state.”

Judge Segal rejected the defense’s request, claiming Home Depot’s definition of what they’re asking for is too broad and would inevitably include information that does not specifically pertain to the suit.

“Arguably, watching a football game or a movie on television is an ‘event’ that may produce some sort of ‘significant emotion,’” Segal wrote in her decision, “but it is unclear whether Plaintiff would be required to produce messages relating to such activities.”

Segal did grant the defendant access to communications between Mailhoit and any current or former Home Depot employees because those would be pertinent to the case.

Photo via daysofthundr46/Flickr

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*First Published: Sep 18, 2012, 9:09 am