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Disclosure of Employee’s COVID-19 Status Didn’t Breach Privacy Law | Jesse R. Dill and Fefe Jaber © Ogletree Deakins

​The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently held that verbal disclosure of an employee’s COVID-19 status does not constitute a violation of Wisconsin healthcare record disclosure laws or a cause of action for invasion of privacy. The court’s decision in Mosley v. Oakwood Lutheran Senior Ministries dismissed the employee’s claims against her employer and addressed the importance of distinguishing what constitutes a breach of privacy during a public health crisis.

The employee worked in food services for a nursing home provider in Madison, Wisc. during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. She reported to work in June 2020 and underwent the employer’s COVID-19 screening process. She stated that she had experienced COVID-19 symptoms in response to the employer’s screening questions. As a result, her supervisor denied her entry to the workplace and instructed her to undergo a COVID-19 test. The test confirmed that she had contracted the virus. The employee’s supervisor subsequently received a copy of the test results.

The employer announced an employee’s positive COVID-19 case through a memorandum, but did not identify the employee’s name. Following the memo’s release, the employee received a social media text message from a coworker indicating that a supervisor shared information about her COVID-19 status. After she returned to work, other employees inquired about her experience with COVID-19. The employee alleged that a supervisor likely disclosed her test result to other…

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