Can an employer get information on an employees family member who was taken to the ER hospital?

My mom was brought into the emergency room on the 25th at 3 am. I live an hour away and went to the hospital to be with my mom. I notified my place of work that I would need the day off on the 25th and possibly on the 26th, depending on how my mother was doing. The owner replied got a replied that I was given the OK, and wished me good luck. However, at 4 pm on the 25th my general manager called and said she had called the hospital in regarding my mother’s symptoms and that she was told unless it was a major heart attack, they would have sent my mom home the same day. Therefore, I was expected to be at work on the 26th. My employers never tried to contract me for any type of proof to bring them (i.e. a doctor’s note, etc). I have called the hospital and they have no record of the call. I am wondering if it’s legal what my employer did or what I can do about it? I found it very offensive that they wouldn’t contact me for information first. They apparently called a hospital an hour away that my mother has never been to.

Asked on March 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is unusual, and we understand why it feels wrong to you, but it is legal for the employer to call. Any person may call any hospital or doctor to ask a question about any patient or about symptoms and treatment generally. The hospital or doctor doesn't have to answer and could certainly have refused to answer, but that doesn't change the fact that the employer has the legal right to place the call and ask the question.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.