BROMONT, Quebec — A Canadian woman on sick leave for depression said Monday she would fight an insurance company's decision to cut her benefits after her agent found photos on Facebook of her vacationing, at a bar and at a party.
Nathalie Blanchard said Monday she was diagnosed with major depression and was receiving monthly sick-leave benefits until payments dried up this fall.
When Blanchard called her insurance provider, Manulife, to find out why, she says she was told the Facebook photos showed she was able to work.
"If you have insurance, be careful. This is a major battle and it's not going to be easy," Blanchard, 29, said in a telephone interview from her home in Bromont Quebec.
She said her 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 holiday.
Blanchard said Manulife told her it was evidence she is no longer depressed.
Her lawyer, Tom Lavin, said Blanchard was wrongfully dismissed from her benefits, and she had the right to go on a sunny vacation.
"The issue for me is that they stopped her disability benefits without the proper medical recommendations. Her doctor recommended she go on vacation," he said.
Blanchard said she took three four-day trips when she was feeling especially low, on her psychiatrist's advice.
Manulife declined to comment on the case specifically but has said in a statement that "we would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on Web sites such as Facebook."
Still, Lavin said the issue raises concerns for anyone who expects their private life to remain so if they post personal information to social networking sites such as Facebook.
"It's good warning for people who use Facebook. It's not like being at home and writing in your diary. It's out there for the whole world to see," he said.
Blanchard's case will be before Quebec Superior Court Dec. 8.
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