A recent court case provides two very important reminders about Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) administration. First, it is essential that individuals who request a leave of absence or otherwise assert their FMLA rights not be discriminated against; and secondly, medical information relating to an FMLA claim must be kept confidential.
In the case of Holtrey v. Collier County Bd. of County Commissioners (No. 16-34. M.D. Fla. Jan. 12, 2017), the employee’s medical information giving rise to an FMLA-serious health condition event was shared in a staff meeting with some of the individual’s co-workers without his knowledge and consent, and later used by his co-workers to mock him because of his condition. The court determined that while the employer fulfilled its obligation to allow this employee to take FMLA leave, it did not protect the employee’s right to privacy and the disclosure of confidential information resulted in materially affected work condition, both violations of the FMLA. Once again we are reminded, privacy reigns supreme. An individual’s information should only be shared on a need to know basis.
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