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EEOC Informal Discussion Letter

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members wrote the following informal discussion letter in response to an inquiry from a member of the public. This letter is intended to provide an informal discussion of the noted issue and does not constitute an official opinion of the Commission.

ADA: Confidentiality of Medical Information

December 1, 2000

Mr. Donald P. Russo

117 East Broad Street

PO Box 1890

Bethlehem, PA 18016-8097

Dear Mr. Russo:

This is in response to your letter dated October 30, 2000, to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC or the Commission). You asked whether the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA or the Act) would require a plaintiff in a disability discrimination suit to waive medical privilege with respect to all medical records, rather than to just those concerning the impairment at issue in the case.

As you know, the EEOC enforces Title I of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq. Title I requires that covered entities keep medical-related information about all applicants and employees confidential with the following limited exceptions:

  • supervisors and managers may be informed regarding necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee and necessary accommodations;
  • first aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require emergency treatment;
  • government officials investigating compliance with the ADA shall be provided relevant information upon request;
  • employers may submit information to state workers' compensation offices, state second injury funds or workers' compensation insurance carriers in accordance with state workers' compensation laws; and
  • employers may use the information for insurance purposes.

42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(C); 29 C.F.R. § 1630.14(c)(1) & Appendix.

It appears that the situation described in your letter is not governed by the confidentiality provisions of Title I of the ADA. Your letter seems to refer to a situation in which medical information is being sought during the course of litigation from the plaintiff's doctor, and not from an employer or other ADA covered entity. Title I only applies to a covered entity's obligation to keep medical records in its possession confidential. It is possible that federal and state privacy laws would apply to the scenario you pose, but Title I of the ADA does not.

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Please note, however, that this letter is an informal discussion of the issues raised by you and is not an official opinion of the EEOC. In addition, our failure to address any other matters that may have been presented should not be construed as agreement with statements or analysis related to those matters.


Christopher J. Kuczynski
Assistant Legal Counsel
ADA Policy Division

This page was last modified on April 27, 2007.