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Giving Medical Record Access To An Employer and The “Employee Assistance” Program Lead to Woman Getting Fired

Posted Nov 25 2010 12:15am

According to the story the woman has been alcohol free for over 14 years and image slipped back and informed her employer she was going to seek treatment.  We don’t know how bad the problem was or if she had been drinking on the job and/or had been warned as that content is not in the story here.

What is stated is that she gave access to her medical records to her employer and their employee assistance program (perhaps a wellness program) and after she signed a second release that documented private therapy sessions she was fired after inquiring with human resources on the status of her therapy record release being added to the first set of records she released.  The doctors and hospital warned her NOT to release such items but obviously she felt the need to hopefully substantiate her issue and maintain here employment I might guess.  Doctors orders were correct here and think about this situation and I myself have been in doctors offices working to over hear employers call the office and ask for patient records, to which the answer is always no. 

The woman has now filed a lawsuit and I am curious to know if this employee assistance program included “wellness” in their offerings too.  Again without all the details about her alcohol issue it’s hard to tell, but the one thing she could have stood solid on was giving the release to her health records as it appears somehow the information contained was used against her along the line.  This is what makes wellness programs a bit gray at times too as how much information does the employer and potentially the health insurance company connected actually getting image and would they in fact admit to seeing information about an employee on the sly if not officially shown? 

The odd part too about this is that the woman worked as a “risk manager”. 

Follow doctor’s orders and don’t do it as data could be combined with other information on file and when analyzed with some algorithmic formulas, it could paint a deceptive picture with formulas looking for “desired” results.  BD 

A little more than two years into her employment as a risk manager with a major construction firm, Lynne Kossow told her bosses in May 2009 that she had relapsed into alcoholism after 14 years of sobriety and would immediately seek treatment.

Against the advice of hospital staff and her treating physician, Kossow said, she signed releases giving Michels Corporation's employee assistance program broad access to her medical records.

Still, she was fired in June 2009, and now has sued Michels, claiming the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by terminating her on the basis of her condition.

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