Contrary LinkedIn Evidence Crushes Witness’ Testimony — Blayde v. Harrah’s Entertainment

[Post by Venkat Balasubramani]

Blayde v. Harrah’s Entertainment, 08-cv-02798 (W.D. Tenn.; Dec. 17, 2010)

By my guesstimate, LinkedIn ranks last among the major social networks for being invoked as a source of evidence in court cases. MySpace is the runaway favorite, and MySpace evidence often seems to become an issue in criminal and family law cases. Facebook-sourced evidence is starting to crop up more often, also in criminal and family law cases. Twitter is probably a distant third, typically making appearances in trademark cases and the occasional defamation case. Of the four, LinkedIn is definitely last (not that this is a bad thing).

Blayde brought age discrimination claims against Harrah’s. Among its many defenses, Harrah’s argued that it wasn’t actually the Blayde’s “employer” for purposes of the ADEA. Blayde testified that although he initially started working at another casino named “Grand,” Grand had been acquired by Harrah’s, which made Harrah’s his employer. Harrah’s argued that one of its subsidiaries acquired Grand and this subsidiary (and not Harrah’s) should be treated as the employer. Blayde produced evidence that Harrah’s treated him as its employee by giving him its employee handbook and signing his paychecks. This looked like it was sufficient to convince the judge, but if this wasn’t enough, Harrah’s own witness–who according to Harrah worked along with (and supervised) Blayde at Grand (and not at Harrah’s)–listed “Harrah’s” as his employer on his LinkedIn profile.

Not only did this LinkedIn evidence undermine Harrah’s argument that it wasn’t Blayde’s “employer,” it also undermined the credibility of Harrah’s key witness:

the evidence supporting Defendants’ explanation for Plaintiff’s termination consists primarily of Hirsch’s testimony, and Hirsch was not a credible witness. Notably, Hirsch testified that he did not work for Defendants even though he listed [Harrah's] as his employer on his LinkedIn page. When confronted with this inconsistency, Hirsch could not offer an explanation except to state that it was not his LinkedIn page. This assertion was incredible given that Hirsch had already verified all of the information contained on the LinkedIn page as being accurate. This and other inconsistencies and illogical conclusions discredit Hirsch’s testimony that Plaintiff’s Action Plan was intended to improve Plaintiff’s performance.

Ouch.