Can Your Social Media Activities Affect Workers Compensation Claims?
The mix of social media and your work life can create some sticky situations. What do you do if you are prone to complaining about work on Facebook, and out of nowhere you get a "friend" request from your boss? While that is best left to the employee and boss's personal preferences, social media's influence on legal decisions related to workers compensation is worth educating yourself about, whether you are a business owner or employee.
Party Photos Hurt Recipient
In one case that gained national media attention, Zackery Clement suffered a hernia after a refrigerator fell on him during a shift at a warehouse showroom in Pine Bluff, Ark. For more than a year, he received compensation for his medical expenses and temporary total-disability benefits. Clement endured three surgeries and was seeking an extension of benefits.
Unfortunately for Clement, he had posted photos of himself drinking and partying with friends on Facebook and MySpace. An appeals court ruled that such photos could be used to deny him further benefits. "We find no abuse of discretion in the allowance of photographs. Clement contended that he was in excruciating pain, but these pictures show him drinking and partying," wrote Judge David M. Glover.
Since courts can sometimes allow social media postings as evidence, it is wise to be mindful of some caution that should be used when employers or employees are involved in a workers compensation case:
- It is best not to post about the litigation on Facebook, Twitter, a blog, or other social media tool.
- Remember that your postings could be used in a case.
- Also monitor how your friends and family post about your case—it is best to ask them not to.
- If you are using social media to post about other things, it is still a good idea to strengthen your privacy settings, making your privacy as tight as possible.
As always, when in doubt, seek qualified legal advice that can help you protect your privacy, your reputation, and your case. Hiring a local worker comp lawyer could be in your best interest.