How serious of a violation of HIPAA is releasing the illness for why an employee was absent?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How serious of a violation of HIPAA is releasing the illness for why an employee was absent?

I was absent from work for a week while suffering from a kidney stone for which I
notified HR. Upon returning to work today, I have been asked by 2 coworkers about
it, making it apparent that someone in HR disclosed my information without my
permission. How serious of a violation is this and would it be reasonable to

Asked on August 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

HIPAA only applies to "covered" entities such as hospitals and other health care providers. Typcially, an employer is not such an entity, therefore HIPPA does not apply to them. That having been said, if such a disclosure violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, then that would be actionable.

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.

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