By Lyne Duhaime
An IBM employee from Quebec made headlines last month when her disability benefits were cut off by the insurance company after it saw pictures of her on Facebook. Despite being off work for depression, the employee had posted photos of herself on vacation at the beach and at a Chippendale’s show. When IBM’s disability carrier saw the photos on Facebook, it cut off her disability benefits. In its view, the employee no longer appeared to be disabled within the meaning of the insurance contract.
This case raises interesting privacy issues. Are photos posted on a social media website personal information? Are employers, disability carriers, and other organizations prohibited from using such information? If not prohibited, are there limitations? Put simply, are employers (or, in this case, insurers) able to use the Internet to collect information about their current or future employees?