Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Gawker Faces Social Media Shaming in Labor Suit

MANHATTAN (CN) - Fresh from their recent class-action certification, former unpaid Gawker interns may have a unprecedented tool for reaching out to potential plaintiffs: a court-approved social-media campaign.

Though class-action notices typically arrive via U.S. mail, lawyers for ex-Gawker interns Aulistar Mark and Andrew Hudson worried that their clients' peers might be hard to reach the old-fashioned way.

Judge William Pauley made a similar finding last year while handling a similar class action involving unpaid Fox interns.

"These are millennials. They don't read paper," Pauley had said.

Andrea Paparella, an attorney for the Gawker interns with Liddle & Robinson, quoted that remark in a letter brief proposing the creation of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts dedicated to the "Gawker Intern Lawsuit" or "Gawker Class Action."

Gawker's lawyers noted that the interns cited no legal precedent for the idea, and it is unclear whether any prior case exists.

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan approved the solution Monday.

While Gawker insisted there is "no evidence" that their former interns use Twitter, Nathan cited a Pew Research Center poll that found 89 percent of their age group use social media.

"The vast majority likely have at least one such account, if not more," the six-page order states.

Like "migrant workers," millennials have "highly mobile" habits, the order states.

Sending out email notifications and setting up "two stand-alone website" would help address this dilemma, the court also found.

Gawker succeeded in limiting other attempts at public shaming.

Posting notices on Gawker's dozen-plus "websites and blogs would be overbroad and not likely to materially improve the chances of notice," the judge wrote.

Gawker's blogging roster currently includes Deadspin, a sports site; Gizmodo, dedicated to gadgets; Jezebel, for women's interests; and other pages devoted to cars, science, video games and other pursuits.

Forcing all of these sites to disclose the class-action lawsuit "has the potential to appear punitive," Nathan wrote.

Gawker proved that using its logo on the notices would be "simply gratuitous," and it is also unnecessary to post a hard copy in its offices, the ruling states.

Once the court approves the social-media campaign, potential plaintiffs will have 60 days to opt into the lawsuit.

Gawker's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a lawyer for the interns declined to comment.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.