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Disclosing Names of Employees with COVID-19: Privacy Rights

paper with employee rights written in red

Right now, there are mandates surrounding proper business practices as it pertains to COVID-19. As a worker in a factory or plant that has been deemed essential to life functions, you are still required to report to work. But when you have loved ones at home who may be at risk and someone at work contracts coronavirus, do you have a right to know?

The simple answer is that yes, you do. However, you do not have a right to know who that employee is.

Right now, an employer has a responsibility to notify workers if someone around them has contracted COVID-19. Those individuals must be notified that they potentially could have come into contact with the virus. However, they cannot tell you that person’s name.

Even with all of the regulations and acts which have been created as a response to COVID-19, confidentiality provisions in the Americans with Disabilities Act, the HIPAA act, and the Pennsylvania Confidentiality of Medical Information does not allow for the publication of an employee’s name.

Understanding Privacy Protections

While there have been many who question why they cannot know the names of coworkers who have the virus, it’s important to know you as an American worker are given these rights of privacy to maintain confidentiality, and to stop discriminatory practices in the workplace.

Below are the privacy provisions as by the following acts.

Americans with Disabilities Act: Under the Privacy Act statement, your name or other identifying information about you will not be released unless it is necessary for legal activities against an entity or is required by law. However, your personal information may be shared within federal, state or local agencies in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act.

HIPAA: Under HIPAA’s privacy rule, your individual medical records and health information is protected as personal information and cannot be disclosed without your permission. You as the patient also have rights to your health information and records including obtaining them and requesting corrections to them.

Pennsylvania Confidentiality of Medical Information: Under the act, Pennsylvanians are entitled to privacy related to the following health information:

  • Client records maintained by area agencies on aging
  • Information obtained through the hearing screening program
  • Patient safety reports
  • Disease, condition, and infection case reports
  • Cancer reports
  • Information from the newborn screening program
  • Clinical records maintained by long-term care facilities
  • Clinical records maintained by home health care service providers
  • Lab records and reports
  • Medical records maintained by ambulatory surgical facilities
  • Patient records maintained by hospitals
  • Vital statistics records
  • HIV information
  • Personally identifiable information maintained by managed care plans and utilization review entities as well as records maintained by osteopathic physicians, psychologists, and mental health services.

While right now, Pennsylvanians are doing everything in their power to protect those at risk from COVID-19, you still have a right to privacy. And if your privacy has been infringed upon, you deserve justice.

Contact the lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli today. We serve clients in Philadelphia, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and throughout the Keystone State. We fight for the injured.

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