In this age of social networking and financial hardships, no one wants to lose their job over some bullshhh… but that’s exactly what’s been happening lately. First it was the Atlanta train operator who was suspended from his job after being caught texting by a passenger who posted pics on twitter, then there was those 3 dumb “A”zz teachers who got caught up in a FaceBook love triangle. Oh…and let’s not forget lil miss ‘I had a beer on vacation and got fired after I posted pics on my FaceBook page“. Granted, each case is completely different, but the underlying cause is the same…. SOCIAL NETWORKING! This time it’s FaceBook to blame again. A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave says she lost her disability benefits because her insurance agent located photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having too much fun.
Nathalie Blanchard has been on leave from her job at IBM in Bromont, Quebec, for the last year undergoing treatment for depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from her companies disability insurance. Blanchard’s payments ceased unexpectedly and when the employee called her insurance company to inquire about her funds, she was told she was no longer considered disabled because of photos on her Facebook page.
Blanchard, 29, said representatives at the company described several pictures she had posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a male strip club and a few taken while posing on a beach:
The rep advised her that it was evidence she is no longer depressed. According to Blanchard’s attorney, she’s currently fighting to get her benefits reinstated and exploring her next steps.When asked to explain the photos, Blanchard said that upon doctor’s orders, she attempted to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.
Manulife, Blanchard’s disability insurer, wouldn’t comment on Blanchard’s case, but released a statement saying: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.” The company did, however, confirm that it does use the popular social networking site to investigate clients.
Her lawyer Tom Lavin said Manulife’s investigation was inappropriate. “I don’t think for judging a mental state that Facebook is a very good tool,” he said, adding that he has requested another psychiatric evaluation for Blanchard.
“It’s not as if somebody had a broken back and there was a picture of them carrying …a load of bricks,” Lavin said. “My client was diagnosed with a major depression. And there were pictures of her on Facebook, in a party or having a good time. It could be that she was just trying to escape.”
Insurance companies must weigh information found on such sites, said Claude Distasio, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. “We can’t ignore it, wherever the source of the information is,” she said. “We can’t ignore it.”
Blanchard estimated she’s lost thousands of dollars in benefits since Manulife changed her claim.