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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Military Lawyer
Category: Military Law
Satisfied Customers: 32771
Experience:  Retired Marine Corps lawyer and Veterans Services Officer (VSO) with 12+ yrs. of experience.
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If confidentiality is broken about a urinalysis what could

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If confidentiality is broken about a urinalysis what could the person tested do.
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years military law experience.

Depends...what happened?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I failed a urinalysis and I recently figured out that people in headquarters have been talking to each other about it, when only a few are supposed to know. I was told by my commander a few months ago that since it was part of my medical records that it stays confidential. Since this confidentiality was broken I was wondering what options that opens for me.

Thank you

Are you still on active duty?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am currently deployed, the test was administered eleven months ago, still within the statute of limitations. They eventually brought it up after I got in country. I flew to meet a defense lawyer but my commander did not do any of the paperwork. I flew back to my base and heard nothing of the situation for about two months. I am now hearing about it again and am inquiring about the confidentiality. I have talked to you before on here and told you about the medical journal that I found that can clear me of these charges. I already know what I need to for that though. I am just wondering about the confidentiality. You helped me out last time and I just wanted to thank you.


Confidentiality is is tough (from the perspective of the individual soldier) since the law will not allow a soldier to file a tort claim...or, rather, the law makes such a lawsuit very difficult.

In most cases, when someone violates your right to privacy, you can sue them. Easy.

But the federal government has in place the "federal tort claims act" that limits how lawsuits against the government can be prosecuted.

Further, there is the Supreme Court case of Feres v US that holds service members are precluded from suing the US government for torts that occur while on active duty.

Now...what you describe is clearly a violation of the Privacy Act.
And, there are some lower court opinions that suggest that violations of the Privacy Act are not covered under Feres...but you would face an uphill battle in an attempt to sue for this violation.

That said, you can certainly report this. What you describe is a violation of your privacy rights, as protected by the Privacy Act of 1974

This law protects personal information from release.

There are actually criminal penalties associated with its violation

This is something I would consider complaining to the IG...they can report this violation to the general officer and they can investigate it and hold the responsible parties accountable.

If that does not work, I would consider a complaint to your Congressman. Again, what you describe is clearly protected by the Privacy Act.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne: under the Feres doctrine, I do not believe you have a valid lawsuit...but you can certainly report this violation of your privacy rights and ask that the person or persons responsible be held to account.

As for you pending criminal case? It likely will have little or no impact, but if you wind up in a court martial, you can use this as evidence that the commander did not follow the could be you get some relief from the judge, depending on how the investigation into what happened plays out.

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