Privacy of Medical Information in the Workplace


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Do you know what you are allowed to say to the rest of your staff if someone is sick or hospitalized? Or better yet, what you are not allowed to say?

Brittany Harris from G&A Partners ( will be speaking about HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and ADA issues that you need to be aware of in a large and small business. It is better to be aware than caught off guard when a potential lawsuit falls in your lap.

Looking for more helpful HR resources, training and guidance? Check us out at www.gnapartners.comm.

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Privacy of Medical Information in the Workplace

  1. 1. Privacy of Medical Information in the Workplace Presented by Brittany Harris September 9, 2010
  2. 2. About your Presenter • HR Advisor with G&A Partners since March 2009 • Located in Bryan/College Station • Enjoys the Training and Development aspect of Human Resources
  3. 3. Introduction • Many laws and regulations govern the privacy of medical information: ADA FMLA HIPAA
  4. 4. ADA • Prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, etc • Requires employer to make “reasonable accommodations” without “undue hardship” • Requires employers to keep medical information confidential
  5. 5. ADA The EEOC considers an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities Has a record of such an impairment Is regarded as having such an impairment.
  6. 6. ADA • Reasonable Accommodation: adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. • Examples: A deaf applicant may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview. A blind employee may need someone to read information posted on a bulletin board.
  7. 7. FMLA • Covers employers with 50 or more employees within 75 miles. • Provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. • Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months • Enforces confidentiality of medical information obtained
  8. 8. FMLA • Leave permitted for: the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition. care for immediate family members in the armed forces called to active duty in the U.S. military, to care for a service member who is suffering from a major illness or injury.
  9. 9. HIPAA • provides rights and protections for patients, along with participants and beneficiaries in group health plans • Prohibits release of PHI without consent • Typically only applies to self-insured
  10. 10. When to be aware… • When someone applies for a job • When someone is offered a job • When someone is employed
  11. 11. When Someone Applies • “pre-offer stage” • You cannot request medical exams • You cannot inquire about disabilities • Any medical information should be kept confidential
  12. 12. When someone is offered a job • Medical exam allowed • Drug Screens are not “medical exam” • Consistency is key • Any medical information should be kept confidential
  13. 13. When someone is employed • Cannot request medical exam or make inquiry unless employee poses direct threat or it’s job related and consistent with business necessity • Examples • Obtaining certifications or supporting documentation is permitted
  14. 14. When someone is employed • Any medical information obtained should be kept confidential (with few exceptions) and in separate file • Exceptions include: Supervisors or managers that need to be aware of accommodations Safety personnel State Worker’s Comp office Insurance purposes
  15. 15. How to protect yourself • Be aware! • Designate “permitted employees” • Train managers and supervisors • Ensure compliance
  16. 16. Contact Information Brittany Harris
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