Can an employer obtain personal information, including medical information, from an employee’s private Facebook account?

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Can an employer obtain personal information, including medical information, from an employee’s private Facebook account?

A colleague of mine relayed personal information from my Facebook account to our HR department. This includes information I sent to my colleague via private message. Some of the information was medical in nature. My employer requested that I undergo an independent medical evaluation based in part on that information, which I did. Has my privacy been violated, and is it legal for an employer to obtain private information this way?

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

Anne Brady / Law Office of Anne Brady

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The privacy laws penalize people for sharing your private medical information, not for obtaining it.  If anyone violated your privacy, it was the colleague who sent the information to your employer.  The problem is you put the information on Facebook and/or sent it to the colleague yourself via a message.  Therefore, no one violated your privacy except you.


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