Doubtless most of you have seen a hoax posting on Facebook claiming Facebook will charge people $5.99 to maintain their privacy settings unless they cut and paste a legal disclaimer on their status. Here is why this hoax is ridiculous on its face and how hoaxes like this undercut the cause of people who have legitimate grievances against corporate wrongdoing.
One reason why this hoax is ridiculous: The Rome Statute
The Facebook hoax alleges Facebook is violating the “Rome Statute.” This is funny. The Rome Statute is part of the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC was established to prosecute war criminals and those who commit genocide.A commercial dispute with a social-media company wouldn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The United States has never signed the treaty agreeing to be subject to the ICC, so American courts couldn’t hear a case under “The Rome Statute” even if Facebook was violating said statute.
Why hoaxes hurt consumers with legitimate grievances against corporations
The McDonald’s coffee case is ingrained into popular culture and is used an anecdote against those who file frivolous lawsuits and the supposedly greedy trial lawyers who represent them. The details of that case were exaggerated by those who seek to limit the rights of consumers. In fact many stories about crazy lawsuits are almost outright fabrications and hoaxes. These hoaxes are often shared via social media, just like the latest Facebook hoax.
One of the main advocate groups against immunity and forced-arbitration clauses are trial lawyers through various trial-lawyers organizations like the American Association for Justiceand their state-level counterparts. Believing and spreading hoaxes about Facebook privacy settings or crazy lawsuits serves the interests of those who would seek to prevent everyday people for addressing legitimate injuries and grievances in court.
However, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court has never really ruled on Facebook in the context of discovery matters in a work comp claim, meaning how much access can your employer have to your Facebook account if you file a workers’ compensation claim?
Recently, however, the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court (at least one judge) has taken the position that in order for your employer to gain access to photographs from your Facebook profile, it must “make a showing of the necessary factual predicate underlying [the] broad request for access.” In other words, your employer must have a decent reason to suspect that a certain photograph or something from your Facebook account has the potential to be relevant to the work comp case before the court will simply grant full access to your Facebook account to your employer.
Therefore, depending on your situation, your Facebook may be safe from your employer to some degree. However, this is a cautionary tale to remind you that even though your employer cannot simply have blanket access to all of your Facebook photos – at least according to one Nebraska judge – it does not mean that your Facebook photos or posts are necessarily safe from your employer gaining access to them at some point during your work comp case. I think the judge in this case takes a step in right direction, but you still must be aware that anything you put on Facebook may be subject to discovery (i.e., your employer may still possibly get access to it) at some point in the future.
Even if you don’t miss time from work, you might still have a workers’ comp case.
We appreciate all of our social-networking followers on Facebook and Twitter. This blog post is in response to questions posed by one of those followers.
Upon reading another blog post, we received commentary on Facebook saying: “…if you can work you dont [sic] have a case…you could still collect for time missed but you dont get to work and get paid for nothing…”
The answers to these questions vary depending on the situation, but hopefully these links provide more information about the benefits of filing a workers’ compensation claim and why returning to work does not mean you don’t have a case as implied by the comment above.
For example, even if your employer accommodated your work restrictions from your doctor or your employer paid your salary while you were off work, you still have a workers’ compensation claim and you are entitled to all of the rights that are provided under the workers’ compensation laws. Click here for more information.
Follow a few rules of thumb to stay safe on Facebook.
More than likely, you’re on Facebook if you are reading this. If you are not, the chances are very good that you know a close friend or family member who is on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter.
Most of us never think twice about what we post on these social media sites. However, depending on the privacy settings of your profile, anyone may be able to see the status update on your wall, the photo of you at a wedding, or whatever job you are currently in. That “anyone” could be the defense lawyer or insurance adjuster if you are currently involved in a Workers’ Compensation action.
Depending on your privacy settings, anyone may be able to see the status update on your wall, the photo of you at a wedding, or whatever job you are currently in.
“What do I have to hide?” you ask. Well, often times these status updates, photos, or wall postings may be misunderstood or taken out of context. For example, a status update stating “Just got done mowing the lawn” might not look very good to someone that is off work for a back injury, and it would be hard to explain that even though you mowed the lawn, it took you two pain pills to do so and caused you extreme suffering later that night that you couldn’t even sleep the price you paid in mowing that lawn.
Here’s what you can do to avoid some pitfalls from Facebook:
Adjust your privacy settings so that only your “friends” can see your status, wall, and photos. Continue reading →