Does your employer have the right to tell co-workers what type of drugs were found in your system after a drug test?

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Does your employer have the right to tell co-workers what type of drugs were found in your system after a drug test?

Asked on February 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have a claim for invasion of privacy against the employer.  One type of invasion of privacy is the public disclosure of private facts. This occurred when the employer disclosed your drug test results to other employees.  The drug test results should have remained confidential. 

Your lawsuit for invasion of privacy could also include a separate cause of action (claim) for either intentional infliction of emotional distress OR negligent infliction of emotional distress.  Intentional infliction of emotional distress is an extreme and outrageous act intended to cause and which does cause emotional distress.  Under intentional infliction of emotional distress, you would have to establish that the employer intended to cause and did in fact cause you emotional distress by disclosing your drug test results to other employees.

It would be easier to establish negligent infliction of emotional distress because you would not need to prove intent on the part of your employer to cause you emotional distress.  Negligence is based on exercising due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable employer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances) to prevent foreseeable harm by not disclosing your drug test results to others, who were unauthorized to receive that information.

Your claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress would need to establish duty (employer had a duty not to disclose the drug test information, in order to maintain confidentiality of medical records).  You will need to prove breach of duty which occurred when the employer disclosed the drug test results to other employees.  You will also need to establish actual cause and proximate cause.  Actual cause means but for the employer's disclosure of your drug tests, would you have suffered emotional distress?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events that would relieve the employer of liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.  Therefore, the employer is liable for negligent infliction of emotional distress and you may receive monetary damages as compensation.

 


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