I have Dial-Up, and I hate my ISP. It constantly disconnects me for "inactivity" (no internet browsers open and surfing) without any warning half the time. Other times it slows down or freezes up. It's annoying as hell, especially when it happens during a hand you could've made a lot of money at, especially ona site where if you disconnect you fold, you don't have any chance of saving whatever you already put in the pot.
Anyway, done with that rant. Empire IS kinda weird about that Dave. I noticed that before too. Most places do just sit you out. I would've done the same as you and just loosened up completely. Sometimes I just decide I don't want to be playing in an Sng or tourney anymore, and if it was a low buy-in I'll just go, excuse the expression, balls to the wall in order to either get lots of quick chips in order to make my sit out last longer or just to knock myself out. Sometimes things like that happen, it stinks.