Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Losing Disability Benefits Because of Facebook/Chippendales

The Lede from The New York Times had this as a title: "Depressed Woman Appears Happy on Facebook, Trouble Ensues."  When you read through the story (first reported from CBC News), it's another lesson to employees to watch what you post on sites like Facebook:
A 29-year-old Canadian woman who says she’s too depressed to do her job claims that her employer’s insurance company stopped paying her disability benefits because she posted some photographs of herself on Facebook in which she appeared to be happy.
Nathalie Blanchard, who has been on sick leave from an IBM office in Quebec since “she was diagnosed with major depression” 18 months ago, called her employer’s insurance company, Manulife, to ask why she had stopped receiving her monthly check. Ms. Blanchard says that an insurance agent informed her that photographs she had posted on her Facebook account — showing her apparently enjoying a Chippendales show, her birthday party and a beach vacation — proved that she was not depressed
Now I can't see how this can stand (but then again I don't know the Canadian court system that well). I'm not sure an insurance agent is qualified to tell if a woman is depressed or not based on photos she posted on Facebook. And if she was enjoying Chippendales, her birthday and a beach vacation, isn't she a normal human being. Let's just say things got worse for Blanchard after this...
[Her lawyer, Tom Lavin] told The Gazette, a Montreal newspaper, that his client’s mortgage insurance was cut off because someone alerted her financial institution to the supposedly damning Facebook photos. “That forced her to sell her house because she can’t afford to pay her mortgage,” Mr. Lavin told The Gazette, “her credit has gone down the tubes and her reputation has been damaged. She’s not having a good time.”
If she wasn't depressed before...Ouch.

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