No matter how many times that our employment attorneys, warn clients about the dangers of social media, there are always some that just don’t get it. Our most recent example comes by way of Lineberry v. Richards, in which Carol Lineberry was a registered nurse at Detroit Medical Center. One morning, she wakes up with excruciating pain in her lower back and leg pain, and an FMLA leave follows. While on FMLA leave, Lineberry took her prepaid, planned trip to Mexico, which her doctor approved and opined that the trip would not conflict with her recovery. Even though this was approved by the good doctor, this is not something you want to flaunt to your employer. Yet, the brilliant Lineberry posted on Facebook: (1) vacation photos of her riding in a motorboat; (2) vacation photos of the ailing Lineberry lying on her side on a bed holding up two bottles of beer in one hand; (3) vacation photos of the medically weight lifting restricted nurse holding two grandchildren – one in each arm; (4) post of her various trips to Home Depot; and (5) posts about caring for her grandchildren. By the way, she had already friended many co-workers, who then provided these posts to the employer.
While living “la vida loca” in Mexico, Lineberry actually sent an email to her supervisor complaining that she “not received a get well card from staff.” Wow, that takes some serious guts. My favorite part comes next. The supervisor responded: “the staff were waiting until you came back from your vacation in Mexico to determine the next step. Since you were well enough to travel on a 4+ hour flight, wait in customs lines, bus transport, etc., we were assuming you would be well enough to come back to work.” To which, responded, in writing, that she had a wheelchair waiting for her at both airports. As everything progressed, Lineberry was reminded that airports tend to have video cameras, which caused her to recant this lie.
Detroit Medical Center fired Lineberry for misuse of FMLA leave and dishonesty. Lineberry then filed a FMLA violation. The trial court, in dismissing the claim, held: “Plaintiff ignores and cannot overcome the fact that applicable law provides that Defendants had the right to fire her for her dishonesty when Defendants knew about such dishonesty before terminating her.”
The morale of this story: (1) anything you post on Facebook expect to come back and haunt you in litigation; (2) don’t lie – especially not in writing. Had Lineberry not lied, coupled with her doctor’s note, the case probably would have at least reached a jury. Of course, those Facebook pictures will not play well with a jury either.
If you even think that your employment rights have been violated or that you might need an employment lawyer, then call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm is dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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