Facebook Jokes About “Naked Twister” Could Undermine Sex Discrimination Claim–Targonski v. Oak Ridge
Targonski v. City of Oak Ridge, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99693 (E.D. Tenn. July 18, 2012). The EEOC complaint.
The latest entry in the ever-popular annals of social media evidence potentially undermining a litigant’s judicial posture. In this case, Targonski is suing for sex discrimination at work. According to this article, her co-worker “told [other] co-workers she was a lesbian, had orgies in her house, kept a “sex calendar” and handed out nude photos of herself to other officers.”
In light of these allegations, the court recounts some of the evidence before it:
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, on February 23, 2010, plaintiff 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.
The court dismisses all of her claims except the hostile work environment claim, which goes to the jury. With respect to her Facebook posts, the court says:
plaintiff testified that the Facebook postings were “obviously” jokes. Plaintiff testified that these “jokes” were not embarrassing or humiliating to her because they were “between friends”….the jury will have ample opportunity to consider the Facebook evidence and reach its own conclusions in this matter.
This case is also an entry in the steady stream of cases I’m seeing involving an employee’s rough treatment by co-workers. See, e.g., Espinoza v. Orange County.
Prior blog posts in this series: