By Lance O. Leider, J.D. Personnel files contain many different kinds of potentially harmful information. Not only is there a tremendous amount of personal information that could be misused, but also information that could be harmful to future employment prospects and potential license discipline. Fortunately, healthcare providers in Florida have a strong right to privacy in the information contained in their personnel records.
The greatest potential danger in these records is that they typically may contain raw data, uncorroborated complaints, and other information that may or may not be true. Personality conflicts between coworkers, baseless patient complaints, and innumerable other workplace occurrences can cause entries in a personnel file that, if take out of context, can have negative consequences.
Know Your Rights.
Having a right to privacy in your personnel records has several different legal effects.
1. Your employer cannot disclose its contents, except in limited circumstances, without your permission.
2. If your employer does disclose your records, you may have a right to sue them for any damages caused.
Should your rights be violated by your employer's disclosure of your confidential records, you may be able to bring suit against it for an invasion of privacy or other similar civil action.
It is important to note that your employer may be legally obligated to release the records because of a court order or other statutory mandate, or may have a legal privilege to do so depending on the underlying facts of the case.
Know How to Protect Yourself.
In today's complicated regulatory and litigation environments employers are often releasing documents to attorneys and government agencies without regard to the privacy concerns of those whose information may be contained therein. Personnel files are routinely requested in Department of Health cases, malpractice cases, Medicare and Medicaid audits and fraud cases, as well as by other private companies like insurance providers, etc. Once the personnel records are made a part of the proceeding they may become public record unless steps are taken to prevent disclosure. Because Florida law does not permit employers to assert the privacy rights of their employees in resisting disclosure of these documents, it can be difficult to protect yourself.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Handling Workplace Issues.
Depending on the nature of the information released and to whom it was released, you may be facing serious consequences in the immediate future. Also, should your employer notify you that your records are being requested from them, you should consider retaining an attorney to intervene in the case to protect your information.
The Health Law Firm routinely represents healthcare providers in workplace disputes and related privacy issues.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Tag Words: privacy, personnel files, personnel records, disruptive physician, complaint, personality conflict, right to privacy, invasion of privacy, intrusion on seclusion, health law attorney, health lawyer, defense attorney, defense lawyer
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