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

Today’s post comes to us from our colleague Jon Gelman of Jon L. Gelman, LLC.

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 

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Why Injured Workers Should Deactivate Their Social Media Accounts

Your private photos could be used against you by insurance companies.

Recently, it seems as though everyone is connected through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. These tools have become a great way to keep in touch with friends and family scattered all over the world. Unfortunately, the information you or your connections post on your social networking sites can cause your workers’ compensation claim to be denied.

The Commission denied further benefits in part based on pictures obtained from Zack’s MySpace and Facebook pages.

For example, Zack Clement suffered a hernia when a refrigerator fell on him while he was working at a warehouse in Arkansas. After undergoing three surgeries and receiving work comp benefits for a year, Zack took his case back to the Arkansas Compensation Commission to get an extension of his benefits. The Commission denied further benefits in part based on pictures obtained from Zack’s MySpace and Facebook pages. The Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s decision, noting Zack’s claims of excruciating pain were inconsistent with the pictures of Zack drinking and partying.

In Iowa, the Workers’ Compensation Commission has also relied on Facebook posts to deny an injured worker benefits. Jody McCarthy had a debilitating back condition that she claimed was aggravated by her work. The deputy commissioner noted that Continue reading »

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How Your Facebook Activity Can Hurt Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Today we have a guest post from my colleague Brody Ockander of Nebraska.

If you are reading this, chances are you’re on Facebook. If you aren’t on Facebook, the chances are you are on MySpace or Twitter, or have a very close friend or family member who uses these websites.

Most of us don’t think twice about what we post on social media sites like these. However, depending on the privacy settings of your profile, anyone may be able to see the status update on your wall, the photo of you at a wedding, or whatever job you are currently in. That “anyone” could be the defense lawyer or insurance adjuster if you are currently involved in a Workers’ Compensation action.

“What do I have to hide?” you ask. Well, these status updates, photos, or wall postings may often be misunderstood or taken out of context. For example, a status update stating “Just got done mowing the lawn” might not look very good to someone that is off work for a back injury, and it would be hard to explain that even though you mowed the lawn, it took you two pain pills to do so and caused you extreme suffering later that night that you couldn’t even sleep. That may be the price you paid for mowing that lawn, but there’s no record of your pain and suffering on Facebook, just evidence that you were somehow able to do it.

Here’s what you can do to avoid some pitfalls from Facebook and other social networking site:

  1. Adjust your privacy settings Continue reading »
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