When you file a wrongful termination lawsuit, it is a common practice for the defense attorneys, who represent your former employer, to look you up on the various social media websites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In, among others. The are several reasons why they do this. First, they want to learn more about who you are and who they are dealing with on the other side. More importantly, they are looking for any information that you post that might be used against you as some kind of impeachment evidence – the kind of evidence that would suggest that you are not honest or that your case is not as good as you say it is. Some of the common examples of such evidence are –
* A disabled employee who claims that he is unable to walk, who posts his skiing or tennis playing pictures on Facebook or Instagram.
* An employee who posts messages on his Facebook timeline stating that he is so happy that he is fired. This will of course make it much harder for that employee and his attorney to argue that the employee suffered emotional distress, as it would appear on the contrary – that the claimant is better off now, since he got what he wanted.
* An employee who says on Facebook or Twitter that he is going to war against his former employer, and he will do whatever it takes to beat them. This kind of behavior is easily twisted in a court room to make you look like some kind of evil and vindictive person, rather than a victim of wrongful termination.
* Any incorrect information on Linked In, including exaggerating the duties you performed while working for the employer you are suing in an attempt to look more attractive to future employers, incorrect dates of prior employment or education; credentials that you don’t possess, such as a certain degrees or a professional certificate.
You cannot stop the employer from snooping around your social media and Linked In activity, but there are a few simple things you can do to reduce the risk of having this kind of investigation by the opposing counsel reveal anything damaging to your case:
1. Don’t add people who you don’t know as friends to your Facebook and similar accounts. The defense attorney are known to go as far as becoming friends with your friends in order to learn more about you and see your social media activity.
2. Increase your privacy setting as much as possible on of the social media sites where you are active. If possible don’t post anything at all until the case is over.
3. When posting anything during litigation, always ask yourself whether what you post can damage your case or the perception of you in the eyes of the opposing counsel, judge and the jury.
4. Make sure all your professional and educational information is correct on Linked In and other professional/recruitment portals.
And just so you know – lawyers check each other out on Google and Linked-In as well in order to assess early on who they are working against.