Insurer Says Employee Doesn't Look Depressed in Facebook Photos

November 23, 2009 ( - A Canadian woman on long-term sick leave for depression says she lost her benefits because her insurance agent found photos of her on Facebook in which she appeared to be having fun, according to the Associated Press.

Nathalie Blanchard, who has been on leave from her job at IBM for the last year, was diagnosed with major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits from insurer Manulife, the news report said. When her payments stopped this fall, Blanchard called Manulife and says she was told the Facebook photos were evidence she was no longer depressed and available to work.

The insurance agent described several pictures Blanchard posted on Facebook, including ones showing her having a good time at a Chippendales bar show, at her birthday party, and on a sun holiday. Blanchard told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that on her doctor’s advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems, according to the AP.

Blanchard is fighting to get her benefits reinstated and says her lawyer is exploring what the next step should be. Manulife wouldn’t comment on Blanchard’s case, but says it would not deny or terminate a claim solely based on information published on Web sites such as Facebook.