Did my supervisor violate my privacy under Hipaa and FMLA?

In confidence I shared my medical condition with my manager who in turn googled this and told co-workers based on her "research" I was capable of working - no testing was available to diagnosis. My FMLA was approved.

1 answer  |  asked Oct 11, 2013 08:19 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
I think it depends on what your manager told your co-worker. If she shared your medical condition, then she probably violated your right to privacy. In that event, your strongest right to privacy arises under Ohio common law, and less so from HIPPA or the FMLA. On the other hand, if she said only that she thought you were able to work, the question is a lot closer, especially if the manager can claim that the co-worker had a need to know whether or not you were able to work.

The bigger takeaway, though, is that you should not disclose your diagnosis to your supervisor. It is not necessary to do so to qualify for the FMLA. Moreover, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot let supervisors see your medical records, like from health insurance, workers compensation, paid leave programs and so on. Supervisors are only allowed to know your restrictions and necessary accommodations.

My real concern, though, is that your supervisor's curiosity, "research" and opinion reflects a negative bias towards your condition. Consider whether you need to make a complaint about this. Do not do that rashly, and evaluate the ramifications before you do so. But if you are still working for her, this is something that you need to monitor and potentially address. When you do so, make sure you enlist the help of a good employment lawyer.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Oct 14, 2013 2:45 PM [EST]

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