If you have a medical problem, you may not want the world to know about your situation. It can be difficult to disclose that you have a medical problem or a disability, but you often have to do that to your employer so you can get the accommodations that you need to work and be productive. You do have protections by federal laws so you can make sure that you aren’t discriminated against and to make sure that you are treated fairly throughout the process.
You should talk with a manager or human resources about your condition and about how your disabilities affect your work. You should feel comfortable explaining the situation and your needs. However, you don’t have to divulge details that aren’t pertinent to your needs for accommodations or your work abilities. You will need to explain any circumstances that may arise, such as any flare-ups that may occur or need for additional treatments or hospitalizations.
When you report your medical conditions and/or disabilities and request accommodations, you should be able to trust the individual that you confide with. When you talk with a supervisor or a manager, you should be able to trust them with your information. That information should stay between you and whoever you choose to share it with, and you should make it clear to whomever you speak with that you don’t want those details spread around.
If the person that you confide in tells co-workers about your situation, it could be considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that is especially true if it affects your treatment around the workplace and how others treat you. If co-workers bring up your condition and you haven’t mentioned it to them, you should ask who told them and what they said about it.
Just because you have a medical condition or a disability, you should not be treated any differently. If you notice different behavior or if you are being treated differently than co-workers, you should make a point to mention it to a supervisor or manager so the problem can be addressed. Managers or supervisors are legally bound to keep medical information confidential and not share the details with anyone else.
If your manager or supervisor has divulged confidential medical information to other employees, then you may be able to pursue legal action against them and your employer. If that is the case, maintain thorough evidence and documentation, such as emails, memos, and witness statements.
Can My Employer Discuss My Medical Condition with Other Employees?
Several federal laws address the confidentiality of employee medical information in the workplace. Although the legal language used to write each of the laws differs somewhat, the primary intent to protect the medical information of employees remains the foundation of each law.
Here are four of the most prominent federal laws that protect the confidentiality of employee medical information:
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)
Unless a manager or human resources employee has a valid reason to know about an employee’s medical records, the employer can be held legally liable for not following the aforementioned federal laws.
An employment lawyer who specializes in handling similar types of cases can help you determine which laws your employer violated.
Your attorney might recommend filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is the federal agency responsible for overseeing the implementation of laws such as the ADA, GINA, and PDA.
In addition to recommending the filing of a complaint, your lawyer also works with you to ensure you file a complaint with accurate information and in a timely manner.
Another course of legal action entails filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Revealing sensitive information such as your medical information can cause you mental anguish and emotional distress.
Issues such as acute anxiety and persistent insomnia often lead to physical issues as well. Filing a civil lawsuit can help you recover from the financial losses caused by the medical expenses that are directly related to your employer revealing sensitive medical information.
Speak With An Attorney
An employment law attorney will be able to help you get your claim against your employer on track. If your employer has violated the ADA, you can file a complaint. You will not go straight to the courthouse and file a lawsuit against your employer. You will first file a claim against your employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or some similar government entity.
The EEOC or other agency will ask your employer to investigate the claim and sometimes can get the dispute settled before the case advances to court. If your employer has at least 15 employees, you are covered by the ADA. That means that they cannot discriminate against you based on your disability. The ADA also requires that your employer provide reasonable accommodations to help you do your job.
There are also laws established by many states that prohibit discrimination because of workplace disability discrimination, and some of these laws apply to all employers – even those with less than 15 employees. If your employer has revealed private information pertaining to your medical condition or disability to your co-workers, you may have a strong claim against them. Giving others this information may affect how they talk with you or treat you.
Your employer is also violating the ADA if they made job decisions based on flawed assumptions about your disability or if they didn’t provide you with reasonable accommodations that you requested because of your disability. You should maintain thorough records and documentation to support your claim and to show how the ADA was violated and how your trust was breached.
Your lawyer will review the details of your case and will determine the best way to proceed with your claim against your employer. An employment law attorney is familiar with the ADA and other employment laws and will make sure everything is handled effectively and efficiently. Complete the Free Case Evaluation Form to share the details of your claim.