Q: I’m an worker in a New York Metropolis co-op constructing, and a member of the Native 32BJ union. Not too long ago, one in all my co-workers was out sick and a few residents realized that he had Covid-19. I requested the superintendent how they knew, telling him that this was non-public data. Then a number of weeks later, the identical factor occurred to me: I returned to work after having been out with Covid, and a few tenants requested me about it. One advised me that she realized from one other worker that I had Covid. However I had solely knowledgeable the tremendous. I’m involved about why and the way this data is spreading. What rights do I’ve to guard my medical privateness?
A: Your supervisor is strolling a high-quality line in terms of Covid. Federal tips require workers’ well being data to be stored confidential. However employers even have an obligation to tell staff (and, in your case, maybe tenants, too) about their potential publicity to an infectious illness.
“Employers are in a little bit little bit of a tough spot right here,” mentioned Matthew T. Bodie, a professor on the College of Minnesota Legislation Faculty, who teaches and writes about labor and employment regulation. “They’re making an attempt to handle the unfold of Covid of their office, however they’re additionally making an attempt to guard worker confidentiality.”
It’s attainable your supervisor or the co-op board knowledgeable workers and tenants that they might have had a Covid publicity. Would doing so violate your confidentiality? The reply depends upon what, precisely, you advised your supervisor and what data he handed alongside. If he recognized you instantly, he could have violated your confidentiality rights beneath the People with Disabilities Act. However in the event you volunteered the knowledge by telling your supervisor unprompted that you just had Covid, then your privateness won’t be protected primarily based on some courtroom rulings, mentioned Mr. Bodie. (And in case your co-workers had been those who advised different individuals that you just had Covid, they’d not be violating your rights as a result of they don’t supervise you.)
Even when your supervisor stored your identify out of the Covid dialog, in the event you work in a small office and also you’re the one particular person out sick, it doesn’t take an enormous leap for workers or tenants to determine who has Covid.
Nonetheless, in the event you really feel that your confidentiality was violated, you possibly can contact your union consultant or file a grievance with the Equal Alternative Employment Fee or the New York Metropolis Human Rights Fee. However even when your rights haven’t been violated, you could wish to have one other dialog along with your supervisor, expressing your privateness issues and requesting that he be as discreet as attainable sooner or later.
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