COVID-19 and Employee Privacy Rights
You have a duty to protect the privacy of employees. You must also ensure their safety. How can you reconcile these responsibilities when you learn of a confirmed or possible COVID-19 case in your organization? Should you announce the risk broadly or allow the infected individual to quarantine without comment and maintain confidentiality?
Privacy rights guaranteed by HIPAA, GINA, ADA, FMLA, and myriad other federal, state, and local laws may be relaxed in the post-pandemic workplace. New lines are being drawn by the DOL, EEOC, and OSH to support employers in their efforts to keep their workforces healthy. Nevertheless, private lawsuits will remain a viable employee option.
You need to understand the laws and apply them wisely in your organization to protect your team and avoid legal liability.
- What laws define current employee privacy rights?
- What EEOC and OSHA guidance should you follow?
- How do HIPAA rules apply to employers?
- How may you obtain, access, and use employee health information?
- May you inquire about employees’ families and activities outside of work?
- How should you deal with uncooperative employees?
- What legal risks does your organization face?
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