These days, social media pretty much permeates every aspect of our lives. Employers often have social media policies that prohibit or restrict an employee's ability to access and post while at work. It's important to review those policies and know what you can and can't do at the workplace. But what about after work? Or better yet, while you're on medical leave?
While your employer may not monitor or control what you post after work, remember that they likely can still see whatever it is that you're posting. Your privacy settings may be on lock down, but it's foolish to think that what you're posting isn't public.
An employee of a long-term care facility in Florida found this out the hard way. The employee was on FMLA leave for a shoulder injury. He exhausted his 12 weeks of leave and asked for additional time off to continue his recovery. His employer provided him with an extra 30 days off. During his medical leave, the employee visited Busch Gardens and texted pictures to his coworkers. He also visited St. Martin for three days and posted pictures and updates to his Facebook page, including a picture of him swimming in the sea. When he got back to work, his supervisor showed him the Facebook pictures and suspended him. The employee was terminated a few days later. He brought claims of retaliation and interference under the Family and Medical Leave Act, but the judge didn't buy it. The judge found the employer terminated the employee not because he was on leave, but because of what he did while on leave. The case is on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, so it's not clear what the ultimate outcome will be, but it's good to remember that what you post is public and that along with Cousin Suzy, your mom, and your college roommate, your boss may be very well checking out your vacation pictures too.
Check out the full opinion from the court here. And contact us if you've got questions about your employer's social media policy, medical leave, or your trip to St. Martin (just kidding -- we hope you enjoy your vacation, but we can't help you much there).