Can my employer prohibit me from disclosing my personal health information to my supervisor or coworkers?

We just received a memo stating that all employees are prohibited from sharing and/or discussing our medical records with anyone other than HR, which feels like a restriction of my right to control the disclosure of my PHI.

Rita Risser Chai replies:

You have the right to reveal your PHI to whomever you want, but your employer’s concern makes sense, too. Fair Measures receives hundreds of emails from employees every year alleging that supervisors or co-workers who they shared their private medical information with then revealed it to family members, co-workers, neighbors, exes, and everyone else. Many of these complaints blow back on the employer. Bottom line, legally you can reveal that information, but we don’t advise it since it can lead to problems and violate the policy.

But, if you think that your health has been damaged by exposure to hazardous substances on the job or dangerous workplace conditions, you do have a right to discuss those concerns with your co-workers under both OSHA rules and those of the National Labor Relations Board.

Posted 04-05-2018

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Rita M. Risser Chai is the founder of Fair Measures. An attorney in California for 20 years and now an attorney in Hawaii, she authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits. She developed most of the curriculum used by Fair Measures, created the firm’s first website praised in HR Magazine, and wrote numerous articles on employment law including one on best practice harassment prevention training published in the magazine of the American Society for Training and Development (now ATD). She taught Law and Human Resources at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for eight years, and has presented four times at the annual conventions of the Hawaii Society of Human Resource Management.