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Employer Paid Annual Physical
Jun 4, 2012

I work for a semi-governmental agency that provides (mandates) annual physical exams for their leadership teams. My question is, how protected am I? If I disclose information about my status, will/can that be provided to my employer. I am a white collar employee that is not in the medical field. I know that my employer will not allow me to go to any out of the country assignments due to my condition, but how much should I worry about what I decide to share. Is it legal for the clinic to disclose information to my employer? I'm really worried.

Response from Mr. Chambers

What is the reason for the exam? Is this something every employee is required to do every year? Is it for the benefit of the employer or is it considered a "perk" to the employer? Is there something about your job that would warrant the need to make sure you are in good health?The answers to those will give you an idea of what information the employer is looking for.

It sounds as if you may travel out of the country frequently for your work. If so, physical exam or not, you may want to be very careful about traveling to countries that blatantly discriminate, especially if you travel with medications. Assuming your agency falls under Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they may have to make reasonable accommodation for you that would avoid traveling to certain countries.

Before any doctor, including one hired by your employer, can release your medical information to anyone, other than another doctor as part of your treatment, you must sign a release. Medical confidentiality was made even more secure through the federal law, HIPAA. If you don't sign a release, the doctor cannot, under federal law, release any information to your employer.

If you are asked to sign a release, read it carefully. If it gives your employer access to the results of your exam, you should question what the exam is for. I know that alone raise red flags. Being quasi-government, this physical requirement should be due to a written policy. Check the employee handbook to see if there is a mention there. If you are part of a bargaining unit, even if white collar, check with your guild or union, because they would have agreed to it.

It is important, however, that you not lie on the exam or to the doctor. That, in itself, is usually grounds for termination.

I hope this helps some. If not, write back with more details, and I'll try to help more.

Good luck, Jacques



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