On March 5, a judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected a plaintiff’s proposal to notify proposed class members of a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit filed by a group of former interns against Gawker via various social media platforms, including Reddit and Tumblr pages, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. The court stated that the proposed social media notification plan was not sufficiently targeted to alert class members and was instead aimed at providing public notice of the claims against the defendants.
The court held that the plaintiff’s proposal to post on Tumblr and on Reddit pages such as “r/OccupyWallStreet” and “r/Progressive” would generally bring the action to the attention of individuals not connected to the lawsuit in any way, adding that the purpose of FLSA notice is to inform eligible plaintiffs to opt in to the collective action, not to “advertise” the defendants’ alleged violations.
The court also held that the plaintiff’s proposed use of sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn was overbroad, noting that the court had previously approved social media notice only when the message would be conveyed through private, individual notifications, but not when the notices were meant for general public dissemination on social media.
In sum, the court held that “[t]he proposals are substantially overbroad for the purposes of providing notice to potential opt-in plaintiffs, and much of plaintiffs’ plan appears calculated to punish defendants rather than provide notice of opt-in rights,” the judge said.