Can my employer request my medical records?

by Kelli
(Duluth, MN)

I am a Registered Nurse who has 3 permanent back injuries. I found a job where I felt I could meet the requirements of the job description.

Recently I was involved in an incident with a patient who was falling and my condition was exacerbated from me assisting her to keep her safe. I have been off of work for 2 weeks (using my earned sick time) and have not requested any workers compensation. I am ready to return to work.

Now my employer wants access to all of my medical records before they will allow me to return to work. Is this legal?

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can my employer request my medical records?":


Minnesota is considered a “Right to Work” State. As a result your employer can hire or fire an employee at will. The exceptions are prohibitions against discrimination for race, color, creed, sexual preference, or age.

Another exception would be a prohibition against terminating employment until and unless the employer exhausted the regulations defining termination conditions in their own Employee Manual.

Your employer should not have access to ANY of your medical records without your express written consent. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) expressly prohibits the release of any medical information to a 3rd party without the patient's execution of a HIPAA form, or other document evidencing the patient's express consent.

It will be entirely up to you whether to release your medical records to your employer. We suggest you thoroughly review your employee manual. If there are provisions discussing the termination policies and the provisions do not include a requirement for an employee to tender to the employer one’s medical records you should bring such provisions to the attention of your employer.

In any event, unless you meet the requirements of the discrimination policies mentioned above or the requirements in the employee manual, you may have a difficult time maintaining your employment.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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