|I am a law enforcement officer diagnosed with HIV. I became ill was hospitilized and placed on restricted duty.
Jul 28, 2003
I am a law enforcement officer in the State of Florida. Since being diagnosed with the HIV virus I was hospitilized and placed on restricted. I have provided my employer with documentation from my Doctor stating that I am able to return to a full duty status. My department has decided to extend my restricted duty and have me evaluated by there own Doctor. I am directed to have all medical records sent to a Doctor they have chosen and to be evaluated by him before returning to duty. My department does not know my HIV status. However there are rumors around the department that I am HIV positive. Does the department have the right to tell me to turn over all medical records to there doctor and to be evaluated by him? What legally do they have they right to know?
Response from Ms. Breuer
You are right that you have a right to privacy. And the doc of their choosing has a responsibility to maintain your confidentiality. When an employee is sent to "their own doc," it means a workers comp doc whose job it is to decide whether the employee is fit to return to work, or, in your case, to unrestricted duty. Rather than a full medical workup, it tends to be a "yes or no" examination: yes, he can return to full duty, or no--and if no, when the doc thinks you may be able to return to full duty.
If I were you, I would go ahead and forward your records and send him a letter before they arrive on his desk that you are aware of your privacy rights and expect him to maintain your confidentiality. You might want to remind him of the penalties under HIPAA for wrongful disclosure. When you arrive, engage him in conversation about HIV and find out how much he knows. Your key point is that you do not pose a threat to the health of your co-workers. I imagine that is behind the restriction. If he maintains that your employer has a right to restrict your duty because of your diagnosis, I encourage you to contact an attorney and pay the attorney just to write a letter: the letter to your department, stating a possible violation of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and referring to precedent--that there are departments all over the country where officers with your diagnosis (notice it hasn't been named) function on unrestricted duty. I wish you well. The more you know about your rights, the better you'll be able to protect them.
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