Disability Leave Foiled By Facebook Photos–Jaszczyszyn v. Advantage Health
Jaszczyszyn v. Advantage Health Physician Network, 2012 WL 5416616 (6th Cir. Nov. 7, 2012)
Another entry in the ever-popular series of litigants foiled by social media evidence. Sara Jaszczyszyn (an even more impressive name than Balasubramani…is this her?) took FMLA leave from work due to back pain. This FMLA leave was intermittent, allowing her to be out only on days when she had a flare-up, but the court says “Jaszczyszyn appears to have treated the leave as continuous, open-ended, and effective immediately.” For a while, company employees tried to accommodate her ongoing absences, but apparently the mood soured after “Jaszczyszyn attended Pulaski Days, a local Polish heritage festival. Over a period of at least eight hours, she visited three Polish Halls with a group of her friends. One friend shared approximately 127 pictures from that day with Jaszczyszyn, who posted, on her Facebook page, 9 pictures featuring herself.” During that same weekend, Jaszczyszyn left another voicemail with her supervisor indicating she was in pain and couldn’t come to work on Monday.
Her managers summoned Jaszczyszyn into the office and confronted her with the photos. The court recounts what happened next:
Jaszczyszyn did not agree with their characterization of the pictures, but she did not voice that disagreement at the meeting. She defended attending the festival by arguing that no one had told her it was prohibited. When asked to explain the discrepancy between her claim of complete incapacitation and her activity in the photos, she did not have a response and was often silent, occasionally saying that she was in pain at the festival and just was not showing it.
Apparently not good enough. The employer terminated Jaszczyszyn. Jaszczyszyn responded with a lawsuit claiming FMLA violations. The Sixth Circuit (how in the world did this case get to the Sixth Circuit???) affirmed the legitimacy of the firing.
The subsequent news is mixed for Jaszczyszyn. In a seemingly gratuitous footnote, the court recaps the good–and miraculous?–news that “Jaszczyszyn appears to have made a full recovery very shortly after she was terminated,” but also the bad news that she was subsequently fired from her next job for excessive absenteeism. Oh, those millennials!
Other posts in the series: