Employer sharing personal medical information with coworkers

Asked about 5 years ago - Bellevue, WA

I suffered an injury - not job related to my knowledge - and saw a doctor who told me I would be unable to work for approximately a week - mostly due to medications I would need to take to reduce pain. I relayed this information to my supervisor so that he knew I would not be in the office and why. I expected this information shared would be confidential. Instead he apparently felt it necessary to respond to be but copy 2 co-workers and his manager. As if that was not bad enough I was informed that the following day at a staff meeting the manager who was CC'd asked about it in front of even more co-workers by saying "I hear (name) is out on pain killers?". I feel this severely breached my confidentiality. I have contacted HR but am afraid of retaliation. What can I do?Please site specifics

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Daniel A Swedlow

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . certain medical information is treated as highly confidential. This does not really sound like it falls under that catagory. (Generally limited to HIV related info). If your supervisor was cc'ing other employees who needed to know, such as his manager and some sort of attendance tracking assistant, there may be a legitimate reason to share that information. Sharing medical information with a larger group might be more problematic, especially if there was no reason to do so. You should not be afraid of retaliation for contacting HR. That is their job. Retaliation is illegal. You may not have a case right now but you certainly might if you were retaliated against. Talk to HR.

  2. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I agree with the wise observation of Mr. Swedlow. Retaliation is illegal. Do not fear it. Get an attorney to keep your employer with the proper perspective.

    You might find my Legal Guide helpful "How to Choose A Lawyer For You"

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/how-to-cho...

    You might find my Legal Guide helpful " What Do I Tell My Lawyer"

    http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/what-do-i-...

    Good luck to you.

    God bless. I am in Chicago and do not practice in WA.

    NOTE: This answer is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an atttorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.

  3. John M. Kaman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . I also agree with the wise observation of Mr. Swedlow.

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