Tell Congress: Employee Health Records Must Remain Private

Target: Paul Ryan, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Goal: Stop mandatory genetic testing and the invasion of employee privacy in the workplace.

Congressional Republicans want to give your employer the right to force you to undergo mandatory genetic testing, and possibly hand over other private health information. It may sound like something out of a dystopian sci-fi flick, but a House committee has already approved the obscure piece of proposed legislation HR 1313, which would allow employers to impose tough penalties on workers who refuse to submit to genetic tests.

With some exceptions, existing laws largely guarantee the right to privacy of workers and their health records, and protect them from discrimination based on health issues, disabilities and genetic anomalies. HR 1313 would effectively strip workers nationwide of these basic rights, according to Jennifer Mathis, the director of legal advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

“What this bill would do is completely take away the protections of existing laws,” Mathis told STAT news.

Defenders of the bill have argued it doesn’t directly run afoul of existing privacy protections – which is true. Instead, this bill takes advantage of a loophole in existing legislation that allows employees to ask their workers to undergo health checks if they voluntarily sign up to a workplace wellness program. The kicker is that HR 1313 would allow employees to penalize workers who don’t sign up to these programs. Under the bill, employees would be able to impose penalties of up to 30 percent of the overall cost of the employee’s health insurance. In other words, you’d be free to keep your health records private, as long as you don’t mind paying thousands of dollars for the privilege.

Sign this petition, and send a message to Congress: privacy isn’t a privilege, it’s a basic human right.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Speaker Ryan,

Our right to keep our health records private is at risk due to a bill currently before Congress. The bill, HR 1313, could effectively force employees to submit to health checks at work, and hand over potentially sensitive private information.

Already, 70 health and consumer advocate organizations have expressed opposition to the bill, including the AARP, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Women’s Law Center. All of these organizations say HR 1313 opens the door to workplace discrimination based on health issues; issues that may have nothing to do with the ability of an employee to do their job.

Privacy is a basic human right, and employers should not be allowed to force workers to undergo invasive, potentially discriminatory health checks. It undermines everything our country was built on.

We demand you do everything in your power to defend our right to privacy, and ensure HR 1313 is never passed into law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Erlend Bjørtvedt

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6 Comments

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    why snoop in their health records?

    • Good question. And why would the government want businesses to snoop in people’s health records?
      As I try to wrap my mind around this issue, I am reminded that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. If a government or corporation acquires PRIVATE INFORMATION about people, that gives them POWER.
      They can then use that power any way they wish – to EXTORT money, to BULLY and ABUSE people, etc.
      This bill is TOTALITARIAN, and if passed, would make living in America truly a NIGHTMARE of EPIC PROPORTIONS.

    • TO GET MORE POWER OVER US……..to be able to control us…..

  2. Angela Rabon says:

    These Republicans are determined to hurt those who are the most compromised among society. If passed, this will become a society where only the strong will survive. If you are sick or have an illness you may be unable to find a job unless you pay a significant amount of money for insurance, which may certainly be costly, and may not be cost effective for most depending on costs. This law is invasive, offensive, and meant to damage those who can afford it least.

    • The poor, the elderly, the disabled, are supposed to die to get out of the way, in this “brave new world” we’re living in.

      • So true what both of you are saying.
        And the people they don’t like that DON’T die are to be treated like slaves.
        An example of where this may lead is Dubai – check it out. The corrupt government owns almost all the companies, and the companies have almost a caste system, with hundreds of thousands of immigrant slaves at the bottom, whose passports they steal so they can’t leave the country.

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