Can a co-worker violate my confidence?

If I tell an employee, who’s also a nursing student, in confidence at my place of work that I was on anti depressants and suffering from bipolar disorder, can she tell management without my permission?

Posted 06-12-2013

Steve Duggan replies:

I cannot tell just from your question why you believe your communication to your co-worker was in “confidence.” Just because she is a nursing student, does not mean that your communication was protected by any legal privilege, physician or otherwise. Therefore, as with any co-worker, once you voluntarily disclose private information to a person, you put ourselves at risk that our confidence will be violated. I am not aware of any legal remedy for violation of that trust, or any legal prohibition against her telling someone else, including someone in management. That does not mean that I think what she did was right, just that I don’t think there is anything you can do about it in a court of law. You could raise the matter with the director of the nursing program in which your colleague is enrolled, and ask if it is a breach of professional ethics. If you feel that you had some legally protected right to trust her with such information, I recommend that you consult with an attorney in your area.

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:

Steve Duggan graduated from the Law School at the University of Notre Dame while on active duty in the Air Force. He has extensive experience representing management litigating cases of wrongful termination, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. Steve also has experience in all phases of administrative litigation of unfair labor practice charges, and class and individual complaints of employment discrimination. He has been an instructor of seminars for supervisors and managers on labor management relations and other personnel issues, and for lawyers in basic and advanced trial advocacy courses. Steve came on board with Fair Measures in 1998.