“SHE IS ON MEDICATION”
A supervisor asked a contractor to keep an eye on an employee who had yelled and cursed on the job that day and to report back to him about any further incidents. The supervisor then told the contractor that the employee “is on medication.” What the supervisor did as described in the first sentence above is ok, but what he did in the second sentence violates law even though it may seem like a tiny, single incident.
The agency argued it was no big deal because the supervisor did not reveal the employee’s underlying diagnosis. But EEOC did not care as it continued to strictly enforce employees’ right to privacy about their medical conditions. EEOC wrote that, “…by disclosing to the contractor (who did not have a need to know) that the Complainant was on medication given the specific circumstances in the instant matter and [supervisor’s] own description of Complainant’s behavior, that she was out of control and hysterical, was sufficient to constitute a per se violation of the Rehabilitation Act.” EEOC awarded the employee compensatory damages and attorney fees. This is a good case to remember the next time an employee reports what seems to be a small violation of his/her right to privacy. For details check out Becki P., v. Elaine L. Chao, Secretary, DOT/FAA, EEOC No. 0720180004