Facebooking About “Naked Twister” With Co-workers Is Not a Good Idea if You’re Suing for Sexual Harassment

Naked Twister, Sexual Harassment, Facebook, LawsuitTennessee is a strange place. Earlier this year a very interesting decision was handed down by a Tennessee Federal District Court, Targonksi v. City of Oak Ridge. The case is a typical sexual harassment case by a female police officer against her supervisor. The female plaintiff claimed that she was subjected to a ‘hostile work environment’ because her supervisor was allegedly “spreading sexual rumors” about her. According to Plaintiff, her supervisor told her that he thought she was “a lesbian and I wanted to be part of” an orgy the supervisor was trying to coordinate.

Plaintiff testified at her deposition, “I’m a Christian and I strive really hard to be a moral person. So for someone to start thinking of me as someone who has orgy parties at my house while my son is home, that’s severely humiliating to me.” Plaintiff further testified that she would never “go out and talk to people about” such things, even in a joking manner.

Curiously, however, a few months after the sexual rumors were allegedly spread, she Facebooked about her desire for a female friend to join her “naked in the hot tub.” Moreover, she discussed “naked Twister” during a party at a cabin in the woods. Even more damming, she talked about female orgies involving herself, another female, and others, to be filmed by her very own husband.

Obviously, the defendant argued that the workplace rumors could not have offended the plaintiff because she was freely talking about such matters on Facebook. The defendant moved for summary judgment. After a review of the evidence, the court left it up to the jury (as it should) as to whether her Facebook posts prove that the comments plaintiff allegedly received in the workplace were offensive to her. Court’s try not to make credibility judgments such as this, preferring to let the jury decide.

This case raises some obvious concerns. The Judge, by letting the jury see the Facebook posts, is saying that plaintiff’s posts on social media is fair game for trial. But what about plaintiff’s personal privacy? Should her Facebook messages even be relevant? The court here seemed to think so, and I tend to agree simply because her posts were to her co-workers and about her supervisor. However, usually I’m on the other side of the fence. I think what we say on Facebook should be private. But that’s just me.

Many thanks to Eric Meyer for blogging about this case first.  theemployerhandbook.com.


Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who exclusively represents employees in workplace disputes. He focuses his practice on sexual harassment, wage & hour, wrongful termination, and retaliation. Visit his website at BRobertsonLaw.com or call his office at 949.667.3025.

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Filed under Freedom in the Workplace, Harassment, Human Resources, Privacy at Work Rights, Relationships, Sexual Harassment, Social Media

One Response to Facebooking About “Naked Twister” With Co-workers Is Not a Good Idea if You’re Suing for Sexual Harassment

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