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I work for a firm that manages short term disability benefits.

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I work for a firm that manages short term disability benefits. I know that one does not have to disclose a disability to an employer if it needs no accommodation and presents no impairment (safety sensitive jobs excepted). My question is, is it legal for large companies that self insure their short term disability to be privy to all and every thing medical regarding an employee that is out ill and on short term disability? Of course benefits are given based on medical data and there are a few members of the employer health team that are privy to the information. Where I struggle is when the employer health team wants complete health information that may not be related to the reason the employee went off work. In other words, if an employee needs off because he breaks his leg, the health team is aware of this occurrence. But does the employer have the right to ask for a list of all meds taken for any reason, such as an antidepressant, not related to the broken leg?



The question is a tricky one for sure. If you do not have an employment contract, an employer can fire you for any reason at all, as long as it's not an illegal one. So while you could protest them asking for a list of all your meds, they do have the legal right to let you go over the subject. Now this is where it gets even hairier...remember I said that they could fire you for any reason unless it was my opinion, asking for a list of all your meds--even ones that are unrelated to the reason you are getting STD--is a violation of privacy. So the way I see it, if the employer DID let you go for not supplying this information, it would be for an illegal reason. You may be able to sue them and win, but in the meantime, you are without a job and paying an attorney a lot of money to do this for you. On the other hand, the employer may be successful in his argument that he has a reasonable need to know about the meds you are on IF he believes they may interfere with your work performance OR if the health team is making sure that they are only paying for the meds related to the reason you are pulling STD. If they are asking for the list of meds from you and not your physician, I would suggest you consider only telling them what you are taking as it pertains to the STD. If they are requesting you to sign something so they can get to your medical records, however, you need to consider the whole scenario I discussed above.

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