What recourse do I have if my HR department disclosed a medical condition to my supervisor?

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What recourse do I have if my HR department disclosed a medical condition to my supervisor?

About 6 weeks ago my father died. After his death, depression I’ve had for 8 years became severe. I asked my HR person what I would need to do to file a disability claim but never filed. She promised me the information was secret until I decided to disclose it. Fast forward and at my performance review, to my shock, my supervisor (who I didn’t tell) puts forward a letter saying they’ll give me unpaid disability leave for my depression. I then learned he was told, as well as another HR person and the CFO. I feel humiliated, and as if it was cruel to equate my mental condition with performance issues without warning me. Do I have any recourse?
If it helps, I have in writing the promise from HR that they wouldn’t disclose my information.

Asked on November 10, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You most likely do not have any recourse:
1) HR can disclose the condition to those in the company who have a legitimate right to know, like your supervisor; other HR staff; and the CFO. Disclosing the condition internally to staff with a legitimate need to know is not a violation of any obligations.
2) More generally, an employer is not under strong non-disclosure obligations in regard to medical conditions--i.e. it's not like the way doctors, hospitals, etc. cannot disclose.
3) Feeling "humiliated" is not an injury or damage for which the law provides compensation.


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