BUSINESS

McDonald's Employee Claims Manager Unlawfully Shared Personal Medical Information

06/18/2013 02:01 pm ET
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An employee working at a San Antonio McDonald's says she was outraged to find her personal medical information posted to a bulletin board in the store's back office.

The employee, identified only as "Anna," told local television station KENS 5 that she suffers from depression, anxiety, liver and lung problems. She explained that she had provided her manager with her doctor's notes to authenticate her illnesses, which had required she take a few hours off. She alleges the manager then put those notes up on the employee bulletin board.

“It just made me want to cry," Anna said. "I didn’t want anyone to know ... I really felt that they stepped into my personal space to basically let anybody know that I needed medical treatments."

San Antonio McDonald's Operator Celia Jairala said, "McDonald's has the utmost respect for our employees and their privacy," but declined to discuss further details.

Anna filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and has consulted with an attorney. She claims that her manager's actions were in clear violation of her privacy and federal health laws.

Justine Lisser, a spokeswoman for the EEOC, would not comment specifically on Anna's case. However, Lisser said it's possible that Anna is referring to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects employees or job applicants from unfavorable treatment because of their disability. It also has a "very strong confidentiality provision," Lisser said.

It's also possible that Anna is invoking the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which among other things prohibits employers from considering an individual's genetic information when making hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions. It's unclear if Anna's employer did so.

Lisser noted that a large number of complaints received by the EEOC involve disabilities that are psychiatric in nature, including depression. In 2012, 402 charges with favorable outcomes or meritorious allegations involved depression, accounting for nearly 7 percent of all disability charges that year.

"Certainly, there is a stigma against some psychiatric illnesses that may not be present for other things," Lisser said.

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