Compliance Showcase: Medical Information Privacy

DMEC Staff@Work

Handling Employee Medical Information: A Core Compliance Issue for FMLA/ADA

Confidential Medical InformationBy Marjory D. Robertson, JD

AVP and Senior Counsel
Sun Life Financial

Recent case law confirms that knowing employee health information presents significant litigation risks under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and comparable state laws.

This is especially true for medical information related to mental illness, as many employees fear that exposure of this private information will make them victims of stigma. Employers need a strategy for reducing the risk of disclosure of sensitive medical information, whether through outsourcing or for in-house operations.

Managing FMLA or ADA claims often requires employers to obtain medical information. This creates a number of potential legal risks, including:

  • disclosing medical information;
  • inappropriately inquiring about an employee’s medical or genetic information; and
  • wrongfully commingling an employee’s medical information with personnel records.

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