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Consultants' Corner
Volume 11 Issue 01

Confidentiality of Medical Information under the ADA

From the desk of Daniel Tucker, M.S.

JAN consultants frequently take calls concerning the confidentiality of medical information under the ADA and who is entitled to the information.There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding this topic, so we wanted to give a quick overview to help provide some clarity.

All medical information should be treated the same, regardless of how it was obtained (during post-offer examinations, voluntary disclosure, etc.). It should be kept in a file separate from the employee’s personnel file and in a location that is accessible only to authorized personnel. Generally, only human resources personnel are entitled to the medical information, however, in its Title I Technical Assistance Manual the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission identifies a few exceptions, which are as follows:

In some cases supervisors may need to know the specific disability so accommodations can be effectively implemented. In such cases, the employer should check with the employee before sharing medical information with the supervisor to explain the reason for doing so. For example, if an employee has a seizure disorder and needs accommodations relating to what to do in the event the employee has a seizure in the workplace, the supervisor probably would need to know that the employee has seizures, otherwise there may be no way to implement a plan of action.

In many cases, however, the supervisor will not need to know the specific disability to implement the accommodation. For example, individuals with mental health impairments sometimes need accommodations such as schedule modifications, additional breaks, and job restructuring. The supervisor probably does not need to know the employee’s specific medical condition or limitations in order to provide the accommodations. In this case, the supervisor may only need to know what accommodations are needed.

For additional information on accommodations and resources, feel free to contact JAN if you have questions.

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