First, the bad news: in a recent poll, a quarter – 25% – of employers surveyed said they had caught an employee in a lie about being sick because of social media.
The “good” news is that only a little over 20% of the employees who were caught were terminated immediately. The others might have been reprimanded, disciplined, or faced some other punishment.
It's no secret that sometimes employees use sick days when they aren't technically sick. However, with the rise of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it has become easier than ever for employers to learn what their employees are really up to. Taking a “mental health day” because you just need to relax? You probably shouldn't tweet about how great the weather is at the beach that day. Told your employer you're home sick with the flu? That picture of you actually at a concert that evening is probably not the best idea. Did you tell your boss you had to go to your grandma's funeral? You better not be “checking in” at a Vegas casino.
An employer cannot legally demand to know your diagnosis when you're sick – that can be protected information – but they certainly are allowed to discipline or even fire you for misusing sick time and especially for lying to your boss. There's also no law against your employer looking at publicly available information on your social media accounts (although they can't demand you give them access or your password). Even worse, your jealous coworker who happens to follow you on twitter can go forward your tweets to your boss and there's nothing legally wrong with that, either.
Fired wrongfully? Speak with one of our wrongful termination lawyers about your rights.
Companies have an interest in seeing that their sick day policies aren't abused; if you get caught, you can expect anything from discipline to termination. No company really wants to employ someone it knows is comfortable lying to his or her boss. Consider carefully whether calling out sick when you don't need to is worth your job and definitely think twice before you update your status to “Drinking margaritas with my bestie when I'm supposed to be out sick!”