Can my employer tell others that I have a communicable disease?

I contracted scabies and was treated. Because I am a healthcare professional, my employer called all of my patients and warned them of a possible exposure to scabies. My issue is that my employer told the patients that it was me (used my name) that exposed them. I would think this would be a HIPAA violation as they are not allowed to divulge my medical health information diagnosis to the customers, but rather they were supposed to inform them that “someone on the medical team has been diagnosed with scabies ” and warn them of possible exposure. Is my employer allowed to tell my customers that I was the employee?

Ann Kiernan replies:

Of course not!!! They should have done precisely what you suggest: Tell patients of the exposure to scabies but not who exposed them. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employee medical information must be kept confidential, as well. However, note that HIPAA does allow disclosure of protected health information, without consent of the individual, to public health authorities for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease. (45 CFR §164.512).

Posted 11-15-2016

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:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.