Big Brother is Watching
Big Brother is watching. The skeptics like to say that in jest whereas the believers will swear to its truth. No matter which camp you belong to, when it comes to small claims court matters, you better believe in Big Brother. You see, in the growing world of technology and social media, you must always be on guard as to what you’re emailing or posting on the internet. Failure to do so can hurt your small claims court case. I will elaborate with a few examples.
One of the easiest ways for an employer to track an employee’s work conduct is by monitoring his email account. It’s very simple. Upon accepting employment, the employee is assigned an email account with the employer, and then every email message sent or received by that employee can be viewed by the employer.
I receive numerous emails from people wanting to sue their employers for wrongful dismissal or asking what to do about their employer’s bad treatment of them. It is amazing how many of these emails are coming from their office email accounts which their employers can and probably do read!
A client of mine was recently sued for defamation. He had allegedly made various postings on internet forums about a certain company, and the company decided to file a lawsuit. My client was dumbfounded because, as he explained, the postings were made anonymously, so how could the company have discovered it was him?
In doing a little research by contacting the forum where the postings were made, I discovered that even an anonymous post has the user’s computer address logged, and therefore if another company summons’ (subpoenas) the information, the forum must provide the computer address which made the post. In fact, this is how my client was nabbed for making the alleged defamatory postings.
Almost everyone I know uses Facebook. Indeed, it is a fabulous tool for maintaining friendships and networking. However, what people don’t realize is that one tiny little post on someone’s “wall” or group can have huge ramifications.
I have noticed an alarming trend with my small claims court cases now. Many people who feel they have been wronged by a company, go to their Facebook page and make nasty remarks. What could have been a straightforward small claims lawsuit for lousy workmanship now becomes a case involving a counter-claim by the company for defamation.
On the flip side, I should mention that there is at least one positive development of social media with respect to litigation. That is, social media allows someone to locate his debtor more easily than in the past where the creditor had no address and had no way of locating a debtor to serve him with court papers.
As technology grows, there is no doubt that Big Brother will continue to play a significant role in small claims litigation. Beware, for although the internet is unbelievably large, Big Brother has ways of making one realize that it’s actually a small world after all.