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Discussing employees medical conditions
Feb 18, 2004

Our HR Dir. discusses or tells you about other persons illnesses or medical conditions whenever she feel like it. Even though we are a small municipality type office where people are quite close I don't think she should be disclosing medical information about employees or their wives. The most recent was that one of the wives was pregnant and had invertro fertilization. I was shocked that she would disclose this. Is this illegal or just plain ignorant. As an HR Dir. she should be held to higher standards. If an employee gets into an accident or is in the hospital, of course, employees want to know but going out of your way to disclose personal information about employees I think is going to far. Is there a fine line here about what can be said and what not.

Response from Ms. Breuer

Your instincts are good. It's not a fine line. It's a clear, heavy line that carries staggering fines (under HIPAA legislation) if someone presses a case when the line is crossed. An HR professional would be held to the highest standard because of her job description and her access to confidential information.

If my assumption is correct and you work for a municipality, please have a private conversation about this with your municipality's legal counsel as soon as possible. If it's not a municipality, have the conversation with an officer of the company or someone responsible for legal compliance. Your HR person is a walking time bomb.

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