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10th Circuit Excludes Voluntary Disclosure From ADA Privilege

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on June 24, 2011 4:22 PM

The Americans with Disabilities Act was up at issue before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently.

In EEOC v. C.R. England, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling granting a motion for summary judgment on the issue that medical information voluntarily disclosed by an employee was not protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Quick Facts:

The original plaintiff, a driver, wanted to become a trainer shortly after starting. He voluntarily disclosed his HIV positive results to a human resources manager at his company, C.R. England. When the plaintiff sought to become a trainer, the HR manager was concerned about the plaintiff's ability to train other drivers. On the advice of counsel, the HR manager asked plaintiff to provide an acknowledgment to trainee drivers that they were fully aware that their trainer suffered from HIV.

According to the company as stated in the Tenth Circuit opinion, the plaintiff couldn't cut it as a trainer. He claimed that the stress level was too high and he was not performing his duties the way he was required to. So, they let him go.

The plaintiff then filed a formal complaint with the EEOC saying that he faced HIV discrimination and retaliation.

The Law:

There were many issues in this case, but one interesting issue was that of the voluntary disclosure.

Was the company obligated to keep the information of the plaintiff's HIV private and confidential?

The ADA provides that under certain circumstances, such information must be kept confidential. This information, according to the court, is protected only if the information is elicited by the employer during the course of an authorized medical inquiry or exam.

In this case, the Tenth Circuit ruled that the information was voluntarily disclosed and that it did not enjoy the privilege of confidentiality under the ADA.

For more details on the other allegations and issues in the case, have a look at the Related Resources below.

Related Resources:

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