EEOC Says ADA Prohibits Release of Disability Information

September 3, 2004 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in an informal letter to an employer, is asserting that the American Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employers from disclosing medical information about applicants and employees.

The letter states that employers are not allowed to disclose to employees if a coworker has a disability, for that information is considered confidential and must be safeguarded by employers. In the instance of the company corresponding with the EEOC, the employer was askiing about a worker with Hepatitis C because of concerns the disease may be passed along to a colleague.

The EEOC, however, did state that there a few rare cases in which releasing information to employees was allowed under the ADA. For example, such disclosure was allowed if it was necessary to provide an ADA-sanctioned accomodation.