[caption id="attachment_2401" align="alignright" width="113"]Denise Dadika Denise Dadika[/caption]

Everyone has “friends” who overshare their daily activities on Facebook.  Rodney Jones’ oversharing cost him his job.  Jones worked as an activity director for Accentia Health, a long–term care nursing facility.  Accentia Health granted Jones 12 weeks of FMLA and an additional 30 days of non-FMLA leave in connection with his shoulder surgery.  Prior to the end of Jones’ leave, Accentia Health learned that Jones was posting about his leave activities on Facebook, including his visits to Busch Gardens Amusement Park and his Caribbean vacation, where he spent time swimming in the ocean despite his shoulder injury.  It seems that Jones’ colleagues did not appreciate seeing photos of Jones’ fun times while they were busy working and reported his posts to management.

When Jones returned to work, Accentia Health confronted Jones with his Facebook posts and permitted him to provide information about his leave and activities during leave, but Jones declined to do so.  Accentia Health discharged Jones “due to the poor judgment [he] exhibited as a supervisor and the negative impact that his Facebook posts and text messages had among the associates at Accentia Health.”  In addition, Accentia Health concluded that Jones’ conduct violated the Company’s Social Media Policy, which provides that “Social Media usage that adversely affects job performance of fellow associates … may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.”

Jones sued Accentia Health alleging it interfered with his FMLA rights by requiring him to present a fitness for duty certification upon his return and discharged him in retaliation for taking leave under the FMLA.  The Court dismissed Jones’ claims on summary judgment finding that (1) Accentia Health did not interfere with Jones’ FMLA rights when it enforced its uniformly-applied policy requiring Jones to present a fitness for duty certification, and (2) Jones was not discharged because he took leave, but because of his actions while on leave, opining an employer “may terminate an employee for a good or bad reason without violating federal law.  [Courts] are not in the business of adjudging whether employment decisions are prudent or fair.”

The case serves as a reminder that employers may take action against employees who violate company policies while on leave and/or are suspected of FMLA abuse.  Before taking any action, however, employers should take the time to investigate the suspected violation and/or abuse, including questioning the employee about the need for leave and inability to work before confronting the employee with the misconduct.  Employers should also consider creating policies that protect against employee abuse while on leave, including policies that require employees to remain within the close vicinity of their homes while on medical leave and/or social media policies, similar to Accentia Health’s, that provide for discipline of employees whose social media posts adversely affect the job performance of fellow employees.  Finally, employers may require employees returning from leave to present a fitness for duty certification but should uniformly enforce the requirement to protect against FMLA interference claims.

Back to Health Law Advisor Blog

Search This Blog

Blog Editors


Related Services



Jump to Page


Sign up to receive an email notification when new Health Law Advisor posts are published:

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.