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Employment Law Notebook

Don’t Share Employee’s Vaccine/COVID-19 Test Status

Hey employers. If you know that a group of your employees are unvaccinated or tested positive for COVID-19, should you send them all a group email letting them know about your COVID-19 requirements?  That’s what the City of Boston did to 100 unvaccinated workers, who now know the private, medical information of the other 99 employees in the group email. 

According to the Boston Herald, the City’s Human Resources Department sent the affected employees an apology, explaining that the email was supposed to be sent as a bcc to respect employee’s privacy but was unintentionally sent as a group email.  Their apology won’t get very far if these affected employees decide to sue the City.  Disclosing employees’ medical information violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.   (I’m not a Massachusetts lawyer, but this may violate Mass. law as well).

This error comes as the City’s vaccine requirements for employees is already being tested in the courts and generating a lot of hate mail for the Mayor.  Should the City win on the vaccine mandate, unvaccinated City workers now have another potential legal remedy against the City thanks to the email screwup.

This incident serves as a good lesson on the importance of having precise procedures for tracking, storing and using information on employees’ COVID-19 test results and vaccine status.