This wide use of social media was one of the reasons the plaintiffs in the case asked to and were initially allowed to use social media to provide notice to other potential plaintiffs, according to Bloomberg BNA.
The case involves a lawsuit brought by unpaid interns for the popular online media company Gawker Media. The interns claim they performed duties similar to those of paid, non-exempt staff, and therefore should have been treated as employees and paid a minimum wage under the FLSA.
In an initial ruling on the lawsuit in November 2014, the district court allowed the use of “social media to provide potential plaintiffs with notice that mirrors the notice otherwise approved by the court.”
The Bloomberg blog reported that Gawker Media did not maintain complete information on its interns’ names and addresses, which contributed to the court’s initial decision on the use of social media to seek out more plaintiffs. The court also found the majority of interns were likely to have at least one social media account.
“The Court approved use of social media notice on the understanding that such notice would effectively mirror the more traditional forms of notice being used in this case,” the court ruling stated. “This generally means that it expected the notice to contain, private, personalized notifications sent to potential plaintiffs” who may not be reachable in other ways.
What will this mean for the future, as people who have been treated unfairly in the workplace seek out new ways to find others to join their lawsuits in this social media age? The Bloomberg blog states that more proposals to use social media to provide class notice can be expected.
“The path to approval of a social media plan is to narrowly tailor it to notify and inform the class or those eligible to opt-in to a collective action, and to avoid overreaching the target audience,” the blog item states. “Employee advocates may even be able to argue — sometime in the future — that social media constitutes the best notice that is practicable under the circumstances.”
If you have been untreated unfairly at work and think you might have a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it’s important to contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible.