Category Archives: Social Media

cut-eye_l

ARE YOU OVEREXPOSING YOURSELF IN SOCIAL MEDIA?

Today’s post comes from guest author Laurel Anderson, from Causey Law Firm.

     Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and other wildly popular social media websites have transformed how people both connect with each other and obtain information about other people. It has also created a change in the legal arena. For our clients who are currently applying for or receiving workers’ comp time loss benefits, or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, our advice is to keep in mind the importance of privacy settings for both written information and photos on their individual accounts. While a Washington State law went into effect this weekend barring employers from requesting access to Facebook passwords, if your privacy settings are not tight, curious parties can randomly obtain information about you.

While a Washington State law went into effect this weekend barring employers from requesting access to Facebook passwords, if your privacy settings are not tight, curious parties can randomly obtain information about you.

     From our experience, you can now assume that claims managers, employers, and defense attorneys will search for information on the internet regarding your personal life that can impact your claim for benefits. Please make sure that any outdated information regarding your activities is removed from your personal page. Do not use social media to vent about your employer or state agencies that are the decision-makers in your claim. You may be under the impression that only your friends can see your personal page, and that you have some right to privacy. However, be aware that all of the content on your walls, including photos and instant messaging, could be potentially discoverable by your employer or opposing counsel in a litigated case if the content is relevant to your claim for benefits.

     The risk is somewhat less in the SSDI arena since there actually is an agency directive to ALJs and DDS adjudicators that they are not to use social media to research claimants. We nevertheless warn our SSDI clients concerning social media, as we are not convinced that agency people are always playing by the rules, or that those rules may not soon change.

 

Photo credit: lindes / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Employee Termination Because of Facebook Comment Does Not End Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Today’s post comes from guest author from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law.

It is unclear whether, under Washington laws, Ms. Miller would be allowed continued time loss benefits. However, it is not uncommon for us to encounter this general scenario in our workers’ compensation practice, as well. When an injured worker returns to work, they can be fired “for cause” and this can result in the worker losing their ability to receive time loss compensation or to apply for unemployment compensation. Every case is different; the specific facts must be reviewed to determine whether legal action can be taken to restore time loss compensation payments after a firing.

An employee who was terminated because of comments made about her employer on Facebook has been allowed continuation of workers’ compensation benefits.

“Lawful termination, like fraud, cuts through everything; but the reasons for
firing here are murky. And whether it’s a legal termination or not isn’t a
question for this forum as workers’ compensation courts are not in the business
of determining whether a firing was appropriate. What is important here is
that termination from employment in and of itself does not end entitlement to
supplemental earnings benefits as set forth in the [Palmer v. Schooner ] case.
In the case at hand, [Ms. Miller] returned to work in a light duty status. She
worked for a short period of time until her termination on October 14, 2010.
She was terminated for violating a hospital policy by posting a comment on Facebook. 
Pursuant to Ms. Salutillo’s comments in the [CSPH] employee memorandum,
[Ms. Miller’s] employment was terminated based on failure to uphold standards of
behavior. After her termination, [Ms. Miller’s] treating physician took her
off work for a short period of time, but ultimately opined she could work light
duty.”

BRENDA MILLER v. CHRISTUS ST. PATRICK HOSPITAL

— So.3d —-, 2012 WL 5238000 (La.App. 3 Cir.), 2012-370 (La.App. 3 Cir. 10/24/12)

Read More about Social Media and Workers’ Compensation

Jul 03, 2012
An injured worker was denied benefits when an Arkansas Court admitted into evidence Facebook pictures that were posted on line showing him drinking and partying. The worker had alleged that as a result of a hernia, 
Apr 13, 2012
Facebook’s new announcement today creates even a greater problem for workers’ compensation claimants. Providing even greater historical information about an unsophisticated Facebook user puts even more information, 
May 07, 2012
The announcement of Facebook to allow for the public listing of organ donors of it social media site, albiet with good intentions, raises concerns about the privacy of workers’ compensation claims as the organs could become 
Sep 15, 2010
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have now become informational sources that workers’ compensation lawyers are now utilizing for evidentiary purposes. The question that remains unanswered is how information 

facebook-friends-box

Watch Out On Social Media: Your Facebook Profile Can Impact Your Disability Benefits

When applying for disability benefits, keep in mind that decision-makers at administrative agencies, insurance carriers or their representatives may look up information about you on the internet and/or they may call you and hear your voice mail recording.

By applying for benefits, you are stating that you are sick/injured and are unable to work or only able to perform part-time or intermittent work. Information available on the internet or your voice mail recording that appears to contradict your application for benefits can result in your being turned down for those benefits. This could be information about your professional or personal accomplishments, a home-based business, or even volunteer activities, which may be no longer current or may not accurately reflect your level of functioning since you applied for benefits. THUS, WE ADVISE OUR CLIENTS TO REMOVE SUCH OUT-DATED INFORMATION FROM THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE, TWITTER PAGE, VOICE MAIL, ETC…

With regard to Facebook and similar social networking sites in particular, pay attention to your privacy settings for both written information and photos. Also, keep in mind that not all of one’s friends and acquaintances may be equally supportive of the notion that one is applying for benefits, especially those who are not entirely familiar with the medical problem or problems that are preventing you from working. We suggest that you think twice before sharing information about your medical condition, application for benefits and/or appeal status in such an internet forum.