Michigan’s Internet Privacy Protection Act

Why employers and insurance companies will still be watching you and the risks of using social media.

Governor Snyder has signed legislation that would prohibit employers from requiring individuals to give up their social media passwords and user names. It is now illegal for an employer to fire or discipline an employee for failure to grant access to a personal internet account.

This important legislation is long overdue. Just last year we blogged about a teacher’s aide who refused to give up her Facebook password and lost her workers compensation benefits as a result.

Unfortunately, this legislation is not strong enough as employers can still ask for personal internet information as part of an investigation into work-related employee misconduct. The employer is also free to utilize any information that is available in the public domain.

So what does this mean for workers compensation?

Private investigators hired by insurance companies routinely examine social media websites looking for incriminating pictures, videos, or comments. This information is frequently used to dispute benefits.

Postings are taken out-of-context and are used in court. We have even seen some insurance adjusters make snap decisions about claims just because something is posted on Facebook or Twitter.

A creative employer may also manufacture employee misconduct to justify its investigation into personal internet accounts. Workers compensation benefits can be stopped if you are fired for fault.

How to protect your legal rights

Private investigators and activities checks are nothing new for workers compensation. Almost all of our clients are followed at some point. Social media is just another avenue that the insurance company can use to dispute your claim.

We strongly recommend that you make all of your personal internet accounts private. Don’t give your employer or the insurance company a chance to stop or reduce your benefits.

You should also be very careful about who you let have access to your information. Co-workers will report your activities to score points with the boss.

Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation about your legal rights. We will make sure that your employer and its insurance company are held accountable.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.

Related information:

Internet Privacy Protection Act – House Bill 5523 (2012)

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, photosteve101.

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