Friday, August 17, 2012

Naked Twister, Orgies, and Facebook - COTW #105

Ah yes: naked twister, orgies, and Facebook . . . just another Case of the Week! In Targonski v. City of Oakridge, the plaintiff brought a number of workplace discrimination claims, including a sexual harassment hostile work environment claim.

Her claim started off pretty well. She alleged that co-workers were spreading rumors that she was a whore, a lesbian, invited people to orgies at her house, and distributed nude photos of herself to anyone who asked. That alone would be a decent Case of the Week . . . but dontcha just know there's a twist?

To establish a hostile work environment claim, the plaintiff must establish that she was subjectively offended by the conduct. Let's throw some Facebook posts into the fray!
[P]laintiff was herself discussing on Facebook her desire for a female friend to join her "naked in the hot tub." The previous day on her Facebook page, plaintiff was discussing "naked Twister." May 22, 2010 postings on plaintiff's Facebook page by her Facebook "friends" talked about female orgies involving plaintiff, Cassie Bridges, and others, to be filmed by plaintiff's husband.
Hmmm, maybe she wasn't so offended by the workplace conduct after all. The plaintiff claims she was just joking around on Facebook with her friends. She also argued (and I think most people would agree here) that there's a difference between joking with friends on Facebook, and somebody spreading rumors in the workplace that she's a whore who loves orgies.

The judge decided that summary judgment was not appropriate in this case as the plaintiff's "explanation . . . has some substance and must be credited by the court." But she's not in the clear yet, because "the jury will have ample opportunity to consider the Facebook evidence and reach its own conclusions in this matter."

HT: My Mason Law classmate Derek Bottcher at Cooley (.vcf) tipped me off to Eric Meyer's post on this case.

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