On FMLA? Better Not Post Those Vacation Photos…

Lineberry v. Richards , E.D. Mich., No. 2:11-cv-13752-LPZ-MKM, 02/05/13


An RN was terminated upon her return from FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave for “dishonesty” when photos she posted on Facebook surfaced. She went on leave in the middle of winter, and posted photos of herself and her family vacationing in Mexico during that time. When she went on leave, her employer did know she had the vacation planned – and that she intended to use a wheelchair and was going to “take it easy.” Her physician indicated that the vacation would be more restful than her job, and would not interfere in her recovery. When she admitted to co-workers that she had not, in fact, used a wheelchair during her vacation (and admitted, apparently, that she lied to someone at the employer’s offices about having used a wheelchair), the company terminated her.

It sounded distinctly like the posting of photos during leave upset her co-workers, which prompted them to question her, which prompted her to lie (at least initially, and then admit lying). Maybe she would have been better off not posting at all. After all, it wasn’t the vacation itself that prompted her termination – it sounds like others felt she was “throwing it in their faces.” That Facebook Envy will get you every time…

Using Facebook to find fellow terrorists: A cautionary tale

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis plead guilty today to terrorism charges stemming from his attempt to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank here in NY.  Nafis’ attempt, if completed, could have caused serious damage.  Fortunately for us, Nasfis realized early on that he could not complete his task alone and so he turned to Facebook to recruit fellow terrorists.  Seems one of the Facebook friends he tried to recruit was a government informant who contacted officials.  Another example of why friending “faux friends” isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Taking a Break From Facebook

A recent survey by the Pew Research  Center  found that 61 percent of current Facebook users admitted to taking voluntary breaks from the site.  Reasons for a hiatus from the most popular social network in America include: a decrease in interest in the site; not having enough time to dedicate to updating and polishing their profiles; and the general idea that Facebook is simply a waste of time.  In addition, 4 percent of the surveyors cited that privacy and security concerns contributed to their departure.  Privacy concerns related to social media remain an evolving area of law, and it will be interesting to see if more Facebook users begin to delete their accounts due to this concern.  It should be noted that of those 4 percent, “those users eventually resumed their regular activity, another 20 percent of Facebook users admitted to deleting their accounts.”  To read more, go to the link below:


Doctors and Judges: Who Can They Friend On Facebook?

Some doctors use social media to discuss health topics, while other doctors use their Facebook or twitters as a tool to become more available to their patients.  Doctors who accept friend requests from patients may face concerns such as protecting patient privacy and maintaining appropriate boundaries between professional and social relationships.  At first glance, one may believe that there is no harm in doctors and patients being Facebook friends, however, as the article notes, this could violate HIPPA laws.

Judges face similar challenges when they choose to accept friend requests from prosecutors or defense lawyers who appear before them. In Florida, the court may soon clarify the parameters that judges and lawyers must abide by in regards to social media interaction. A Broward criminal case could set the stage for state law that will dictate who a judge can “friend” on Facebook.   This case arose after a defense attorney filed a motion to disqualify a judge because he was friends on Facebook with the assistant state attorney.

Would you feel comfortable friend requesting your doctor?


Did Netflix Violate SEC Regulations on Facebook?

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was very excited when his company reached a milestone, achieving one billion hours of content on their streaming service. Hastings was so excited, that he posted the information on his personal Facebook page. However, the SEC requires that disclosures about company information must be distributed “through a press release on a widely disseminated news or wire service, or by ‘any other non-exclusionary method’ that provides broad public access.”

With Facebook having over one billion active monthly users and considering the top newspaper only circulates approximately 62,000,000 copies monthly, has Facebook become the more appropriate venue for companies to release information?

Waitress at Applebee’s Fired for Posting Receipt on Social Media Site

A server at Applebee’s received a receipt from a customer (a Pastor, apparently) which left her no tip for a party of 20 people, and read “I give God 10%, why do you get 18?”  Another waitress, trying to make the scene into something more lighthearted,  posted a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page.  She left the signature visible. Once the identity of the diner was being guessed online, the story spread, and the waitress who posted the photo was fired.

I post this, partly to follow up on my recent post about Federal Regulations prohibiting employer’s from blanket bans on employee social media postings.  If the waitress had posted the photo without the signature line visible, would she still have her job? Would she also have had to exclude the name/address of the restaurant?


Employer’s Attempts to Limit Employee Speech – and the NLRB’s Response

This semester, I’m writing about how social media has changed/is changing the face of employment discrimination law suits. In that vein, here’s an article from the NYTimes about how employers have attempted to limit employee speech online – regulations which have clashed with union advocates and federal regulations.


Kids’ Facebook “depression”

I don’t know if I should laugh at this article as ridiculous or be shocked and paranoid for the future of America.  The article discusses the responsibility of doctors to discuss the facebook effect with their patients.  Has social media infiltrated society so much that a discussion regarding its influence will now be included along with an eye exam and height measurement?  What does this say about us?



7th Circuit Strikes Down Sex Offender Ban on Social Media

The  7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that an Indiana Law prohibiting a convicted sex offenders from using social media, violates the First Amendment Right to Free Speech. The ACLU brought the suit on behalf of John Doe, an anonymous registered sex offender who had been convicted of child exploitation.  Doe challenged Indiana Code Sec 35-42-4-12, which disallows registered sex offenders from using websites, chat rooms and instant messaging services if such entities are known to be accessible to minors.  In rendering the decision, Judge Joel Flaum, writing for the three member panel, found that the statute “broadly prohibits substantial protracted speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper commu I action to minors”.  What do you think?  Did the court get it right?





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