What Laws Could Prevent Employers From Sharing COVID-19 Infection Information?

State and federal laws offer different guidance on what and how employers may share COVID-19 infection information.





Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

HIPAA does not protect employment records, even if the information in those records is health-related. In most cases, HIPAA does not apply to the actions of an employer. An employer can ask for a doctor’s note or other health information if they need the information for sick leave, workers’ compensation, wellness programs, or health insurance.


Americans With Disabilities Act

The ADA requires medical information about individual employees be stored separately from the employee's personnel file, in order to limit access.

An employer may store all medical information related to COVID-19 in those existing medical files – including an employee's statement that they have the disease or suspect they have the disease, or the employer's notes or other documentation from questioning an employee about symptoms.

Indiana Civil Rights Laws

Indiana Code mandates information obtained by employers regarding medical conditions or history of any employee must be treated as a confidential medical record, with some exceptions: 

(1) Supervisors and managers may be informed regarding necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee and necessary accommodations. 

(2) First aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require emergency treatment. 

(3) Government officials investigating compliance with this article shall be provided relevant information on request

GRAPHIC: Lauren Chapman and Justin Hicks

SOURCES: U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,
and the Indiana Civil Rights Commission