I was fired for refusing to give confidential medical information. Is this legal?

I’m a volunteer EMT who responded to an aid call at my place of employment on my day off. The owner told me I HAD to tell her what my patient/co-worker said. I refused, citing the patient’s HIPAA privacy rights under federal law. I was demoted 4 days later. It became a hostile work environment and I gave notice. I was let go via a text message, hours later. Can I do anything?

Posted  12-06-2013

Ann Kiernan replies:

Call a lawyer! It sounds like you were retaliated against for refusing to violate your patient’s federal rights. You live in Washington State, which does recognize a claim for wrongful discharge for refusing to carry out an unlawful order, but there are specific requirements you must meet. Good luck.

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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.