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Does my employer have the legal right to see my medical records now that I have been hired and insured?

San Francisco, CA |

I have had some sleep therapy for potential apnea as well as an inflamed colon for which I was hospitalized for. Does my employer have legal access to these medical records?

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Attorney answers 2


The "knee jerk" answer is "no". You have a right to privacy with your medical records absent some of the exclusions...and even in those exclusions, there is some dispute. So, you may want to ask your employer the "why" of his/her interest in your medical sure to get their response in writing.

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Employees have a right to medical confidentiality. While employers can request that an employee provide them with a clean bill of health to enable them to perform their jobs, they have no right to access an employee's medical records without the employee's authorization.

Sometimes, however, it may be to the employee's advantage to provide such information to the employer. This may be when an employee suffers from a disability that affects a major life function. The employee may need the employer to take the disability into consideration and reasonably accommodate them to enable them to perform their job without adverse actions taken against them. If the employee refuses to inform the employer of the disability, the employer cannot be held responsible for any claim of disability discrimination because their defense would be they did not know (unless it is plainly obvious).

This is a very personal decision and you should do what you believe is right for you under the circumstances. But if you believe your medical condition is causing a problem at work, you may wish to consult with an employment law attorney in your area to discuss your rights and how to protect them.

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