FMLA: Disclosing an Employee’s Medical Condition is NOT a Good Idea!
In a recent FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) case before the Court, an employee suffered from urinary complications. Obviously, this was a sensitive medical condition that the employee did not want his peers or employer to know about. However, because he was required to request FMLA, he had to disclose within those documents what the medical condition was and why a medical leave was necessary.
As a result, that employee’s manager became aware of the medical condition and believe it or not, decided it would be a good idea to broadcast the medical condition to the rest of the staff. This not only resulted in humiliation to the employee, but staff began to question the employee about the medical condition and some even went as far as making jokes and comments about it. The first thought that comes to mind is a HIPPA violation, right? Of course it is, but what is the remedy under HIPPA for such a violation? A slap on the hand?
That particular employee however went one step further and he brought suit against his employer claiming that the employer violated the Family Medical Leave Act on the basis that under the Act, confidentiality of an employee’s medical information is a protected right. The court ruled in that matter, Holtrey v. Collier County Bd. Of Commissioners, that it is possible that the employer had “materially affected” that employees working conditions when it “allegedly” breached confidentiality and other employees mocked him for his condition. While there is conflict among the courts on if the FMLA actually allows a private right of action regarding a violation of confidentiality, the Court in this matter found that “enforcing labor regulation makes clear that confidentiality of medical information is a right provided and protected under FMLA.”
Employers should ensure they are taking active steps to avoid these types of lawsuits. They should ensure that their supervisors and managers are trained regarding their obligations as it relates to sensitive medical information and that such disclosure is prohibited. If your company requires such training, you can reach out to NotzHR by calling or clicking the contact link above. If you are an employee and feel that you have been subjected to the same or similar type of discrimination, visit Ihaveemployeerights.com (a division of NotzHR) to discuss your particular situation. While Employee Rights is an advocacy agency, we can assist you in filing your matter at the appropriate administrative agency or direct you to a reputable attorney for a civil filing.
#FMLA, #ConfidentialMedical, #FMLAViolations