Legal

Gawker Intern Lawsuit Shows the Importance of Social Media in Litigation

By Jon Hyman

Feb. 19, 2015

Have you recently tried to communicate with someone under the age of 25? Have you tried to call them? How about email? What about text message, Facebook, or Twitter? I bet that your communicative outreaches are much more likely to gain a response if you choose any of the latter over the former.

Thus, it shouldn’t be that surprising that a federal court is permitting a group of former interns (now plaintiffs) to use social media to reach out to potential class members concerning a wage-and-hour lawsuit against online blog network Gawker. According to Gawker, however, in this letter filed with the court [pdf], the plaintiffs’ planned social media outreach goes too far.

The court previously green lit the plaintiffs’ use of social media to reach potential class members. Their proposed plan? In addition to tweets directing potential class members to a website about the lawsuit, the use of the hashtag #gawkerinternlawsuit, and the creation of a Facebook pages and LinkedIn group to disseminate information to potential class members. Other proposals, to which the employer objects, include:

  • Repeat messages over numerous social media sites, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook.
  • The use of inflammatory hashtags such as #fairpay and #livingwage.
  • Plaintiffs’ counsel adding potential claimants as Facebook friends.
  • Using Reddit to tie the lawsuit to unrelated political causes.

I don’t need to tell you that social media has become ubiquitous. I also don’t need to tell you that lawyers are notoriously slow to adapt. As the Gawker case illustrates, social media is playing, and will continue to play, an important role in litigation. If I were hiring an attorney to handle my employment litigation, one question I would be asking is whether that lawyer understands social media, uses social media, and knows how it could be used to help the case.

Jon Hyman is a partner in the Employment & Labor practice at Wickens Herzer Panza. Contact Hyman at JHyman@Wickenslaw.com.

What’s New at Workforce.com?

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Compliance

Minimum Wage by State in 2023 – All You Need to Know

Summary Twenty-three states and D.C. raised their minimum wage rates in 2023, effective January 1.  Thr...

federal law, minimum wage, pay rates, state law, wage law compliance

workforce blog

Legal

New Labor Laws Taking Effect in 2023

The new year is fast approaching, and with its arrival comes a host of new labor laws that will impact ...

labor laws, minimum wage, wage and hour law

workforce blog

Legal

Wage and Hour Laws in 2022: What Employers Need to Know

Whether a mom-and-pop shop with a handful of employees or a large corporation staffing thousands, compl...

compliance, wage and hour law