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Is Inquiring About an Employees’ Vaccination Status a HIPAA Violation?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Employment Law For Employers, Human Resources And Workplace Compliance

Are you fully vaccinated?

Surely you have been asked this question before. As a simple question with potentially negative connotations, asking someone if they are fully vaccinated does not always go over well. This is especially true for employers inquiring about the vaccination status of their employees.

Many business owners and operators may wonder if they can even legally ask their employees if they are fully vaccinated.

According to the EEOC, employers can inquire about vaccination status as long as they are asking a simple yes or no question. But what about HIPAA? Can employers request a vaccination status from employees without getting slammed with a HIPAA violation? Read on to find out.

HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This act protects the exchange, privacy, and security of health information, essentially guaranteeing the protection of health information provided by specific entities. These entities include electronic transactions from health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses (health systems, billing services, etc.).

HIPAA regulations do not apply to businesses that do not fall within those three listed categories. Furthermore, entities that do fall into those categories should note that the Privacy Rule is not applicable to employment records.

So, what does this mean for employers requesting the vaccination status of employees?

This means that employers may generally ask employees to provide proof of their vaccination status without violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule, as long as the information is kept confidential (as outlined by the ADA) and any applicable state privacy laws. For example, an employee’s vaccination status must be treated as confidential and stored separately from the employee’s personnel file.

You should always consult your attorney to discuss any HIPAA or other workplace laws (federal, state, and local)before implementing a policy. Contact us today to learn more about our services and get your workplace law questions answered!