What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas? Well, not always – and a Kelowna-area woman found that out the hard way.
While vacationing with her family in Las Vegas, Palm Springs and the Caribbean, a number of photos were taken of the young lady engaging in the type of activities one would expect at these destinations: walking along a sandy beach, swimming in a pool or the ocean, or riding along in one of those ever-popular catamarans. Sounds harmless enough. The only problem was the young lady was also engaged in a court action for personal injuries sustained in a car accident that took place prior to these trips, which she argued had prevented her from attending her college courses.
Now, it should be noted that the young lady did not hide the fact that she had taken these trips. In the material she provided to the judge, she enclosed some photos from those trips in an effort to show the judge that her level of physical activity was limited at best. In her sworn affidavit testimony, she states that for the most part, she spent a large portion of her vacation time resting poolside and only engaging in social gatherings at dinner or at the bar.
However, there were more photos of the plaintiff out there. Lots more. 172 of them to be exact. And the judge got the chance to see these photos to determine whether or not they were relevant to the lawsuit. After viewing the photos, the judge found that the photos clearly indicated that the plaintiff had not spent the majority of her time on vacation resting poolside in a chaise lounge, as she had indicated. Clearly, there was a difference in opinion when it came to the definition of “physical activity.” As such, the judge ordered that all 172 photos of the young lady on vacation could be shown to the other side.
The judge did not stop there, either. He also ordered that the metadata from the digital camera be disclosed as well. In case you were not aware, metadata from digital cameras often records the date and time of the photograph and sometimes even the GPS coordinates of the photograph as well. In this case, all that information was to be shared with the other side.
Courts have become more and more tech-savvy in recent years. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, smartphones and digital cameras, the legal system is taking note and discovering that often, these mediums are often a source of valuable evidence in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings.
Take for example a case that was recently heard before the BC Human Rights Tribunal. In that case, a pharmacy technician alleged discrimination against her former employer after she returned from a maternity leave, only to find that her full-time position was no longer available. The pharmacy had a different version of events and argued that there was always a full-time position available for her, but it was the claimant herself who did not want to return to a full-time position.
The pharmacy strived to accommodate the claimant’s request for part-time work to no avail. Frustrated by the pharmacy’s response, the claimant posted rather derogatory comments on Facebook about her employer and their seemingly unhelpful approach to her scheduling requests. Those Internet comments were later shown to one of the claimant’s supervisors, via a co-worker who was on the claimant’s “friend” list. Given the disciplinary history between the claimant and her employer (before and after the maternity leave) and in light of those Facebook comments, the employer terminated the claimant’s employment.
After a lengthy hearing, the tribunal member found that the claimant’s complaint against her former employer would not succeed and it was dismissed. Although the Facebook postings did not form part of the reasons for dismissal, it was no doubt valuable evidence for the tribunal member and for the pharmacy in their effort to paint the claimant as uncooperative throughout the ordeal.
Technology is powerful. It keeps memories alive much longer than our own memories could ever hope to, or it reconnect us with friends we once thought were long lost. But it can also—as it did in these cases—come back to haunt us when we least expect.
The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.The information provided above is for educational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace the advice of a lawyer or address specific situations. Your personal situation should be discussed with a lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns, contact a legal professional.