We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating after a recent article we read: Be very careful what you post on social media sites, like Facebook, when you have a workers’ comp claim. In the case we are about to discuss, an employee’s claim for family medical leave Act (FMLA) was denied due to pictures she posted to her Facebook account.
An employee went to visit her doctor about back pain she was experiencing that stemmed from a previous car accident and two prior surgeries. She was not able to work the next day, so she gave her employer a work release form from her doctor, indicating that she was totally incapacitated.
She returned to work a few days later, but her doctor submitted a FMLA certification which stated that the employee had intermittent flare-ups of back pain that, when active, made it impossible for her to work. He amended the note and said she would be disabled for about 6 weeks.
During the time that she was disabled and not working, she attended a local festival for about eight hours. A friend took over 100 pictures, some of which appeared to show the employee either dancing or standing. During the weekend of the festival, she left voicemail messages for her work saying that she could not come to work due to the pain she was experiencing. Some of her coworkers saw her Facebook pictures and reported them to her supervisor. She was called in to discuss the situation and told her supervisor that no one told her this was prohibited. She also said she was in pain while at the festival. But she could not reconcile her activities at the festival with the fact that she was in too much pain to come to work.
The company terminated the employee, stating concerns about FMLA fraud. She sued for alleged retaliation under FMLA. However, the court noted that the company properly considered workplace fraud to be a serious issue and rejected her claim for retaliation.
Whether you are on FMLA or workers’ comp, you don’t want to jeopardize the benefits you are receiving by posting pictures on any social media site where your activities could be misconstrued by your employer or their insurance carrier. Remember that even if you keep your profile private, those pictures could make their way into the hands of your employer and you could be denied the benefits you’ve fought so hard to receive. If you have any questions about the activities that you can and cannot engage in while receiving workers’ comp or FMLA, contact the attorney team at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates. We’ll help to make sure you stay on track and continue to receive the benefits you need to get you back to work at full capacity.