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Amended Law Protects Employee Medical Records

On Tuesday, March 31, 2019, Governor Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 6236, which amended RCW 49.60.510.  As amended, the law provides more robust protections for employees who allege discrimination.  Specifically, the law protects an employee’s ability to maintain the confidentiality as to most of their medical records.  The law governs situations where an employee: (1) claims disability discrimination for having a diagnosed medical condition, and (2) seeks to recover non-economic losses as a result of discriminatory acts.  As to the second situation, non-economic losses would typically relate to a diagnosed mental, psychological, or emotional medical conditions. 

The amended law means that, by presenting this type of disability claim, or claim for non-economic losses, an injured employee does not waive their right to keep their medical records privileged and confidential.  Instead, the plaintiff only waives their health care privilege with respect to medical records specifically relating to the diagnosed condition.  This waiver would also apply to medical records and information concerning a medical condition upon an employee initiates a claim of disability discrimination.

For those interested to read the bill as amended, here is a link:

http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2019-20/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Passed%20Legislature/6236.PL.pdf#page=1

If you have further questions about discrimination claims, or damages potentially caused by discrimination, we recommended contacting an attorney.