Is it legal for an employer to ask for personal medical information and threaten consequence if not answered?

Asked 9 months ago - Norwalk, CA

The employer has supplied medical insurance for their employees and families always and is a major private corporation which has included this as part of their employee compensation package for generations. They now have insisted a form be completed which gives such specifics as blood pressure, weight, BMI, personal eating habits, exercise habits, test results and many other questions. They want this information on all family members who are on the insurance plan. If this is not supplied they have threatened to increase the individual employees contribution to his or her health care over other employees who comply. I have worked in the health care field and think this violates the law. It also sounds like a form of blackmail but that might just be my personal feeling.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jonathan Aaron Weinman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

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    Answered . You should consult with an employment attorney in your area as your post raises a few questions that would require a more detailed discussion. For example, HIPAA is a Federal law that prohibits involuntary disclosure of private medical information to third parties. That being said, there are certain circumstances in which medical information may be necessary for an employer, such as for qualified leave of absence or fitness for duty examination. It sounds like the information contained in your post goes beyond what is customarily sought by employers, assuming your employer is not a health care organization.

  2. Golnar Sargeant

    Contributor Level 19

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    Answered . If this is the scenario that Mr. Pedersen has described, I do not see a cause of action, as it is allowed. If not, then you could always get a consultation with a plaintiff employment lawyer, many give free consultations, check beforehand. Also, many take the case on contingency if they want to take it. Use the "find a lawyer" tool on this site, and your local bar association is a good referral source as well.

    We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute... more
  3. Neil Pedersen

    Contributor Level 20

    3

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    Answered . If the form is intended to convey the information to the insurer, and the information on the form is kept in a separate file available only to those with a strict need for access to the document to convey it to the insurer, then it is acceptable for the employer to distribute such forms and collect them and then convey them to the insurer.

    Good luck to you.

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

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