O’Malley and Madden Weekly

Topic of the Week  Your Right to Medical Privacy at Work

As an employee, there are just some things that an employer does not need to know. For example, that one time you broke your arm bike riding in college, or that time you had your blood drawn to test for pregnancy. While this information may seem irrelevant and, at times, highly sensitive, your employer may have access to such information.

Some employers can even require you to take medical tests or inquire about your medical history. While these requirements are job and state specific, there are certain healthcare protections that help to maintain the privacy of your medical records.Do I have a right to have my medical information kept private in the workplace?

Your employer has a number of ways to obtain medical information about you, whether it's because you volunteer it when you call in sick or tell co-workers, or because you provide requested information on health insurance application or workers compensation claim forms. However, just because your employer has the information does not mean that it should be shared with everyone in the workplace, especially when you have not chosen to do so.

Can an employer require me to take medical tests in order to be hired?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an employer may not ask a job applicant whether they have a disability (or about the nature of an obvious disability). Furthermore, you cannot be required by an employer to take a medical examination before you are offered a job.

Following a job offer, however, an employer can condition the job offer on your passing a required medical examination, but only if all entering employees for that job category have to take the exam and the exam is job-related and consistent with the employer's business needs. (You cannot be singled out for an exam merely because you have, or your employer believes you have, a disability.)

Thought of the Week

"The primary federal employment laws regarding confidentiality of medical information are the ADA and HIPAA. Which law applies will depend on the source of the medical information. Even when not specifically protected by law, it is a recommended practice to keep all employee medical information confidential."


Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Four Signs of a Toxic Workplace Culture

The importance of culture in a workplace is often overlooked, but it can have a significant impact on employee performance

Top Five News Headlines

  1. Amazon Corporate Workers Plan Walkout Over Return-to-Office Policies
  2. Generation Z Most Likely To Think Retirement Age Is Too Low
  3. Generation Z Most Likely To Think Retirement Age Is Too Low
  4. College Enrollment Slides as Students Question Degree Value
  5. What Are Soft Skills?

List of the Week

from Workplace Fairness

Who can my employer show my medical information to?

  • To supervisors and managers where they need medical information in order to provide a reasonable accommodation or to meet an employee's work restrictions
  • To first aid and safety personnel if an employee would need emergency treatment or require some other assistance 
  • To individuals investigating compliance with the ADA and with similar state and local laws
  • As required for workers' compensation claims or for insurance purposes