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Facebook photos could be hazardous to your health benefits

November 24, 2009 |  9:00 pm

Facebook
A Facebook user logs into his account in Ottawa,Canada. Credit: Sean Kilpatrick / Associated Press
A Quebec woman says her sick-leave payments were cut off because of photos posted on her Facebook page showing her at a Chippendale's show and other events, according to the CBC broadcast network.  

Nathalie Blanchard, 29, was on leave from her job at IBM for the last year and a half because of a diagnosis of major depression. When the payments suddenly stopped recently, she called her employer's insurance company to find out why. In an interview with the CBC, Blanchard said she was told "I'm available to work because of Facebook."

She said the insurance company representative described photos on her Facebook page that showed her at her birthday party, on vacation and at the all-male revue. The company stripped her of her benefits, saying the photos were evidence she was no longer depressed.

Blanchard didn't deny the existence of the photos, but she said they were not a true indication that she had been cured. "In the moment I'm happy," she said in the interview, "but before and after I have the same problems."

She also said her doctor had advised her to have nights out with friends to help her forget her problems. Blanchard is fighting the cutting off of her benefits, and to that end has filed a civil suit in Quebec Superior Court.

Insurer Manulife declined to comment on the case, but in a statement to the CBC it said, "We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook."

-- David Colker

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