Medical information is very important to many people, and other people knowing about your information can feel very invasive. However, there are many reasons why someone, namely an employer, might need this information. That’s why it’s important to know what medical information employers can and can’t ask about.
In general, employers are able to gather information that you publicly disclose. For example, if you announce something to your workplace, your employer may then reference that information when speaking to you. Other than that, they usually need to make a request to a medical institute for the information. Once the request comes through, that medical institute won’t release your information until you give it permission to do so.
Employers are unable to ask any questions that would force you to reveal a disability or even ask questions about a disability that’s obvious. However, they can require testing for every worker to ensure everyone can perform the job’s duty. They cannot discriminate against someone with a disability if that person can perform the job safely and with accommodation.
An employer might require a note from a doctor for sick leave. They can also require medical confirmation that you are fit for work when you return after medical leave. They can also ask about medical conditions to see if they need to make any accommodations for an employee, but this is usually done with an employer’s request to an employee’s general practitioner.
What They Can Ask
To put it simply, an employer can ask general questions to identify accommodations they need to make. They can ask questions for the purpose of monitoring absences or medical leave. They can also ask questions about medical conditions they believe will influence job safety and capability. They can also keep medical records that you provide through the use of systems like the immunization tracking system.
What They Can’t Ask
They cannot gain access to any medical documents or history without permission from the employee. They can’t ask about any health conditions that change or occur during the employee’s employment. If the employee gives access to any medical files, they have a right to view the files before the employer sees them.
These are the general laws about what medical information employers can and can’t ask. This information comes from HIPAA, ADA, and the FMLA, all laws and acts that protect employees.