I am out on CA state disabilty for diagnosed depression from my doctor. I already submitted doctors note from my doctor...

Asked about 1 year ago - Berkeley, CA

to excuse me for the week of May 7,2013 and then my employer called my doctor to ask what was wrong with me, he told her he was not at liberty to disclose this information without my written consent. I am scheduled to return to work October 15 (3 weeks from now) yesterday I received a letter from my employer that she wanted me to sign this HIPPA form so she can contact my doctor to see what my prognosis is and also claiming it is also needed so she can budget temps to cover my absence. Does this seem normal? My doctor thinks not

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Patrick John Phillips

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . This is inappropriate behavior on the part of your employer. They are entitled to reasonable verification of your illness (i.e. a doctor's note saying you are incapable of working) but nothing more. You have no legal obligation to sign a HIPAA form for your employer, and any retaliation which you can link to such refusal would give rise to a claim for damages. Good luck to you.

    http://www.johnphillipslaw.com

    This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not... more
  2. Neil Pedersen

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . Your employer is only allowed limited information. It is allowed to have a note from your doctor indicating that you need time off due to a disabling condition and the predicted length of the disability. The employer is not allowed to learn about the diagnosis, prognosis or any other details unless you are returning to work with restrictions. At that point, the employer is allowed to know what restrictions you have and what can be done to accommodate those restrictions. What your employer is doing is attempting to snoop too deeply into your medically private information.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed... more
  3. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20

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    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Mr. Pedersen and Mr. Phillips have given you great, accurate answers. You can learn more about your right to medical privacy by taking a look at some of my Avvo guides to the disability laws and family leave laws:

    Please look at my Avvo guide on the ADA: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe....

    To get a better understanding of the employer's rights and your rights, please look at my Avvo guide on medical inquiries and examinations, and medical confidentiality under the ADA: http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe....

    Please look at my Avvo guide to the differences between the ADA and California's more generous FEHA: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/employment....

    Please look at my Avvo guide on the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. section 2101 et seq. (FMLA): http://www.avvo.com/pages/show?category_id=6&pe....

    Please consider this. Even if your employer violated the law, there may be many reasons not to do anything about it. Taking action could result in the loss of your job due to employer retaliation. While it is illegal to retaliate against an employee who makes a good faith complaint about illegal circumstances, all the law does is provide a remedy after the fact; the law cannot prevent your employer from taking retaliatory action in the first place. You may find yourself out of a job in this terrible economy and unable to find a replacement. No law suit, no matter how successful, can ever give you back the lost time and lost peace of mind that are taken from you during any litigation.

    Of course, you should not have to choose between your job and your privacy rights. But the law does not prevent employers from violating the rights of their employees. The safest way to protect yourself is to retain an attorney to interact with your employer BEFORE the employer takes an adverse action. For this type of assistance, you can expect to pay hourly. Plaintiffs employment attorneys in California charge anywhere from $250 to $750 an hour depending on many factors including experience, area of law, geographic location, work load, interest in the case, difficulty of the case and more. You should expect to need at least four and up to ten hours for this kind of consultation.

    To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.

    Employment rights come from the state and federal legislatures. One of the best things people can do to improve their employment rights is vote for candidates with a good record on pro-employee, anti-corporate legislation. Another way to protect employment rights is to form or affiliate with a union, or participate in a union already in place.

    I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

    @MikaSpencer * * * twitter.com/MikaSpencer * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes... more

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