When FMLA and Social Media Collide

When I think of FMLA, I don’t automatically think…..Twitter.  It never crossed my mind to make that connection.  But with the overwhelming popularity of social media sites infiltrating our home and work lives, it’s a relationship that leave administrators should examine more closely.

A recent post by FMLA Insights highlights the growing relationship between employees who take FMLA leave and the social media sites used to advertise this fact.  Following the article’s suggestion, I conducted my own experiment by searching Twitter for the term “FMLA.”  The tweets I discovered were interesting, to say the least:

“LOL I got paid leave and FMLA!  My boss got PWNED.”

“F*** yeah fmla papers approved for my meningitis!!  Off to get a pedicure.”

 “Another bad headache.  Think I’ll use fmla tomorrow.”

The website facePINCH allows users to search Facebook status updates by topic.  Here is what I found for “FMLA”:

“Do not feel like goin 2 wrk n a couple hrs…thts cool tho cus Im def bout to get sum fmla from them!”

“If I do not get my vacation I be alot mad now I need a good reason to get fmla.”

“I’m working 2 shifts tomorrow….If I didn’t have any work ethic or love for my job and co-workers I would start playing the FMLA card about now….” 

(These status updates are real and transcribed exactly as posted.) 

While it wouldn’t be prudent for FMLA administrators to start scouring the web for their employees’ “tweets” – some organizations simply have too many workers on leave, and issues of privacy could be at stake – the act of posting one’s FMLA status online could create doubt as to the legitimacy of the leave: Is the employee just joking?  Or does it constitute leave abuse?  This can create a delicate situation.  If an employer comes by this information honestly, it can result in requiring the employee to seek recertification.  At minimum, it should result in a dialogue between the employee and human resources.

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