Safety and OSHA News

Will employee’s Facebook page end his injury lawsuit?

An employee said a workplace injury left him in pain, unable to “enjoy life’s pleasures” or wear shorts because of an embarrassing scar. Given those claims, attorneys for his former employer were interested in what was on his Facebook page.

Rane Zimmerman injured his left leg while operating a forklift at the Weis Markets warehouse in Milton, PA. He was employed there as a subcontractor. Zimmerman sued Weis for his injury.

But photos on the public part of his Facebook page show him wearing shorts that reveal the leg scar and riding a motorcycle.

Weis Markets filed a motion to gain access to his private Facebook postings.

Zimmerman claimed his privacy outweighed the need to obtain information from his social networking web pages.

Now, a county judge in Pennsylvania has sided with Weis.

“Zimmerman voluntarily posted all the pictures and information on his Facebook and MySpace sites … and he cannot now claim he possesses any reasonable expectation of privacy to prevent Weis Markets from access,” the judge wrote. “Information … gleaned by defendants from the Internet is fair game in today’s society.”

A lawyer for Weis Markets said he has received passwords, user names and log-in names for Zimmerman’s Facebook and MySpace pages as ordered by the judge.

Do you agree with the judge’s opinion? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.

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  1. I absolutely agree with the judge.

  2. No I do not agree this is right as facebook and myspace have setting to keep people out other then the people you invite to see your page.

    I think this is crossing a line and everyone will suffer for it.

  3. I most certainly do agree with the Judge’s decision. There are way too many cases of fraud these days which ruins it for the legitimate claims and the honest people who are injured and not looking to just make a buck!!

  4. The employer used material already available on the public part of the site (info available in the public domain) to establish Reasonable Cause to access the private information. Given that establishment of Cause, I concur with the judge.

  5. SafetyGoon says:

    It’s just my opinion, but anyone who puts anything on a social media type website with any expectation of privacy is a fool. Never post anything on a social media site that you wouldn’t want your boss, mother, or worst enemy to see because if they really want to see it, chances are they can. In this particular case, the employee made the mistake of exposing his blatant case of fraud (or at least extreme exaggeration) by posting a picture on the public portion of his social media site. I agree with the judge on this one.

  6. Some people clearly need to rethink their definition of privacy. A lot of people today seem to think that privacy is something we carry around and can invoke at will, such as those who complain that traffic cameras on public streets somehow invade their privacy. “Anytime I don’t notice anyone watching me” is not a good working definition of a private moment. Social media privacy settings fuel this misconception, in spite of the universal agreement among internet security experts that nothing you have shared on the world wide web should ever be construed as even remotely private. Examining what you share among your friends does not constitute an unreasonable search, given that your best friend can be legally subpoenaed to testify against you. The only privacy you can depend on in this life is the privacy of your own thoughts.

  7. I totally agree with the the judge. In California if someone claims to be injured and is videotaped doing heavy lifting, for instance, such video evidence is only admissible if it comes from a licensed private investigator. If you or your kid catches the person in act, guess what? That video doesn’t count. The internet is open to everyone. If such easily available public information is not allowed, what is? The judge is using good common sense, something in short supply these days.

  8. The Judge is absolutely correct!

  9. PO'd Safety Guy says:

    I totally agree with the judge’s ruling. To post on social media and expect privacy is foolhardy.

  10. Of course the Judge is correct. These “I Love Me” vanity sites appeal to those who desire to be seen, and in the process they sacrifice their privacy by default.
    It’s one of the drawbacks of being a celebrity.

  11. No I do not agree with the judge. On social media you can choose who has access to your profile so not everything is public domain.. That is like saying if I use a public bathroom you have right to film me on the toilet. If you have to obtain their user name and password to obtain the information then you are in a private domain.. (it is not publicly accessed)… I have no problem with them using items on social media sites that are just out there for everyone to see but if you have to break into their computer or have to obtain their user name and password then you are invading their privacy.. Get back to video taping..

  12. I do not agree with Mary’s reply and reasoning above that she disagree with the judge’s opinion.
    Once there is a lawsuit over fraudulent claims, then everything is legally ‘discoverable’ that pertains to the claim.

  13. I know a few people who genuinely want privacy – None of them has a Facebook account. They know that if a person goes on Facebook, their privacy is instantly compromised. I don’t care because I limit what I know the whole world will potentially see, so I have a Facebook account.
    I agree with the judge, given the increasing number of greedy Americans and lawyers who are out to make an easy fortune any way they can.

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