Court Compels Discovery of Sexual Harassment Complaints in Lawsuit Against Sprint

In Milan v. Sprint Corporation, 2018 WL 1665690 (E.D.N.Y. April 6, 2018), a sexual harassment case, the court affirmed a Magistrate Judge’s Order granting plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery.

Plaintiff sought, inter alia, “complaints of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and/or retaliation against Sprint, including but not limited to complaints through the ‘Sprint’s Ethics Hotline’ and any notes generated from Sprint’s Employee Helpline.”

In determining that this discovery was warranted, the court explained:

during the hearing, Plaintiff’s counsel made a robust showing as to how information related to other complaints of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and/or retaliation would be relevant to Plaintiff’s case. Specifically, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the information would be relevant [¶] [n]ot only for us to see what is the pattern and practice at Sprint at [sic] investigating these claims, especially when the instant claim, there’s an allegation that Sprint failed to do any sort of investigation and failed to take our client’s complaints regarding this seriously … [and] would also, if the issue should ever come to a trial … possibly support [plaintiff’s] claims for punitive damages. [Paragraphing altered.]

Judge Hurley noted that the Magistrate Judge had “significantly constrained” plaintiff’s original discovery request – which was for “all complaints of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and/or retaliation ever brought against Sprint or dialed into Sprint’s Ethics Hotline anywhere in the Country” – by only granting the request as to complaints brought in Long Island. By doing so, he “tailored the initial broad request to a scope that is now proportional to the needs of the case” within the meaning of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b).