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department of social services notified my former employer of hiv status
Feb 15, 2012

Today I received an e-mail from my former employer, attached was a letter addressed to my former supervisor. The letter was a "second request" with an hiv questionaire attached.

I originally contacted social services as required by adap.

I had planned on returning back to work after I recovered from spinal surgury. When I left my former employer I was given a letter stating that I would be rehired.

I was under the impression that privacy laws prohibited this type of conduct, am I mistaken? I never disclosed my status to my former employer and I fear that now I will not be rehired.

Response from Ms. Douaihy

Dear Writer,

It sounds like the Dept of Social Services (DSS) may have breached your confidentiality in violation of the Federal Privacy Rule (HIPAA). The Privacy Rule and many state confidentiality laws prohibit health insurance plans from disclosing your status without your permission. Since ADAP is a health plan administered through DSS, DSS is definitely obligated to keep your confidentiality. If you choose to pursue the matter, you should know that HIPAA does not allow individuals to bring litigation for breach. But you can file a complaint with the Civil Rights Office of U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (note you must do so within 180 days after the breach). In addition, depending on where you live, you may be able to sue DSS under state confidentiality law (if one exists). If your employer fails to rehire you, not only could you hold them liable for breach of contract (they promised you your old job back), but you would also have a strong case of employment discrimination due to your HIV status. I wish you good luck in this process!



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