Customer Loses Suit Over Employees’ Disparaging Facebook Posts–Howard v. Hertz

18 01 2017

[Ed’s note: this instance is more of an employment law case. But there are overtones related to defamation and Section 230 immunity, so I’ve included it here]

This is a case involving allegedly discriminatory and disparaging Facebook posts made by a Hertz employee. A customer (Maurice Howard) alleged that he was the subject of a Facbook posts and comments by Hertz employees. The initial post, by Shawn Akina:

I seen Maurice’s bougie ass walking Kahului beach road . . . n*** please ..

[Maurice is] a broke ass faka who act like he get planny money . . .

The following exchange ensued:

[co-worker:] run that faka over!!! lol.
[Akina] i was tempted too, but nah, i had a white car, neva like u guys scrub da blood off.
[a co-worker comment:] What no BMW for h today?
[Akina] now he knows we got mercedes, he’s gunna drive those. It’s too bad his CC declines all the time.
[co-worker:] Hahahaha . . . he still renting huh LOL.
[another co-worker:] No more Troy his favorite boy though! Sorry Troy!

Another Hertz employee liked the post. A friend of Howard’s saw and forwarded him the thread. Howard came in to complain about the post, and the supervisor on hand reviewed the post and found it was offensive and inappropriate (and a violation of Hertz’s policy). Four Hertz employees resigned or were terminated.

Howard, understandably miffed, brought suit. He alleged that the posts caused him reputational harm and also PTSD(!). The court initially dismissed several of the claims, leaving the claim for negligent supervision, training, and hiring. (Previous blog post here: “Hertz Faces Negligence Suit For Employee’s Facebook Bashing of a Customer–Howard v. Hertz”.) The remaining question is whether the posts violated any common law duties Hertz may have had.


Case citation: Howard v. Hertz Corp., 13-0065 (D. Haw. Jan. 25, 2016) [pdf]


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