Medical Records/Information are Confidential

You have a disability, and your New York employer asks you questions about your disability when you request a reasonable accommodation. You provide information yourself and give the employer doctor's notes and reports. You may even let your employer talk to your doctor. This is confidential medical information. Only certain employees in your workplace are entitled to know about your medical condition or your medical information.

Your employer may need this information to give you a reasonable accommodation or give you sick leave or time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.

Your employer may be able to tell its human resources department or your supervisor about your medical condition or medical information for the purpose of a reasonable accommodation or providing sick leave, but others workers do not need, and are not supposed to have, this information.

It can be upsetting and humiliating to have your private medical information spread throughout the workplace. This can result in harmful attitudes, comments and gossip, subjecting you to a hostile environment.

For example, you have a psychiatric or psychological disability, and you are doing your best to do your job. Or you have dyslexia which requires you to have the aid of a proofreader. Or you have cancer, which requires you to take breaks for nausea or fatigue. Or you have diabetes, which occasionally makes you dizzy, and you need privacy to give yourself insulin injections. Or you have a heart condition, and you need a machine to help you lift heavy objects. You don't need other workers making fun of you, subjecting you to a hostile environment because you have a medical condition. There is nothing wrong with you if you can continue to do your job, with or without a reasonable accommodation, and you are no different from other workers in the eyes of the law. You should not be singled out for disrespect or abuse, and it is against the law in New York State and New York City.

If your private medical information has been disclosed to workers who are not entitled to have the information, that is a violation of confidentiality and a form of discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Americans with Disability Act requires that your medical records be kept in a separate file, not in your personnel file where unauthorized persons may have access. Similarly, under the Family Medical Leave Act, your medical records, including certifications and medical histories that may be provided by your care giver must be kept in a special file, and not mixed with your general personnel files. Supervisors may be informed to the extent that work duty restrictions and accommodations are required, and safety personnel may be informed in circumstances where emergency treatment may be required. But there is no need for other employees to have access to this information, and it is prohibited by law.

Contact us online or call us at (212) 949-1001 so that we can review if your New York City employer has subjected you to disability discrimination by disclosing, revealing or publicizing your private medical information in violation of law in New York State or New York City.

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