Are You Required to Tell Your Employer That You Have Hepatitis C?
After being diagnosed with hepatitis C or facing treatment, patients can struggle with sharing their health condition with their employer and co-workers. Fear of losing a job or being demoted, stigma, and concern how they will be treated if employers know they have hepatitis C can occur. The question is, are people required by law to tell their employer that they have hepatitis C?
What you need to know
Answer: People are not required by law to disclose their health information to their employers, unions, or co-workers, including if they have hepatitis C or in treatment for hepatitis C.
People can choose to share information about their health condition and treatment for hepatitis C only if they wish. Healthcare professionals and staff are not allowed to share anyone’s health information without that person’s permission. Your medical records are protected by HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Hepatitis C is not transmitted through casual contact, so employers and co-workers do not need to worry about exposure. In general, unless someone is hurt or injured with an open wound and/or exposure to blood to others, they are not required by law to share they have hepatitis C.
American Disability Act
People who have hepatitis C are protected under the American Disability Act (ADA). The American Disability Act does not list certain medical conditions that constitute disabilities, they have a general definition of disability that may apply to a person’s medical condition.
As referenced by the Job Accommodations Network concerning the ADA, “A person has a disability if he/she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having an impairment".1
If you have hepatitis C and have the need for long-term disability or life insurance, you are obligated to tell the provider about your hepatitis C and medical condition.
Legal prosecution has occurred in cases of people not disclosing their HIV or hepatitis C status to those they were in a relationship with. Legal prosecution has also occured against tattoo parlors and hospital settings where an employee exposed patients to hepatitis C or use of non-sterile equipment was used on a patients resulting in transmission of hepatitis C.
Sharing your medical condition with hepatitis C with your employer is your personal business. Though you do not have to disclose your condition, I have found it helpful to share about hepatitis C and educate others on what hepatitis C does and how it is and is not transmitted.
Does reading hep C patient stories aid you in your journey?