Confidentiality: It’s the Law

Revealing of mental health conditions and treatment

Your employer has the right to access your claim file, including mental health information.  An employer can only reveal your mental health conditions or treatment to people who are authorized to access the information.

Examples of authorized people your employer can communicate with about your claim are:

  • You or your representative.
  • The employer’s authorized representative(s).
  • Medical providers treating or examining you.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor(s) who are providing services on the claim.
  • Authorized L&I personnel.

Privacy is your right as a patient. L&I understands the need to keep your mental health information confidential, and Washington state law (RCW 51.28.070) helps protect the privacy of your claim file.

If your employer reveals information about your mental health conditions or treatment to an unauthorized person, without your written consent, your employer is subject to a civil penalty of $1,000 per occurrence. All complaints regarding this violation must be investigated to determine if the employer or their authorized representative violated the law.

Examples

Example 1:  An employer sends an electronic correspondence to three people unauthorized to receive claim information. The correspondence shares a worker’s mental health condition from the claim file. Since the information was sent through one electronic correspondence, the employer will be charged for one occurrence.

Example 2:  One of the unauthorized people in Example 1 forwarded the electronic correspondence to an unauthorized person the next morning. Later that afternoon, that same person sent an additional correspondence to another unauthorized person. Since the unauthorized person sent the mental health information to other unauthorized people on two separate occasions, the employer will be charged for two additional occurrences.

Example 3:  On three separate occasions an authorized representative verbally shares mental health information from a worker’s claim file with three different unauthorized people. Since the information was shared in three separate conversations, the employer will be charged for three occurrences.

If you believe your confidential mental health information has been shared with unauthorized people, please let us know by using the Mental Health Privacy Complaint Form (F262-291-000).