Labor: How much information can an employer request in a doctor’s note?

Requiring too much information from employees could raise legal issues

In 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Dillard’s Inc., a national retail chain, in the United States District Court for the District of California. (EEOC v. Dillard's, Inc., et al.). The suit was filed on behalf of a class of former employees who were purportedly required to disclose the exact nature of their medical conditions before Dillard’s would approve the leave as sick leave. On Dec. 18, 2012, the EEOC and Dillard’s settled the matter for a disclosed amount of $2 million. The settlement also resolved claims that Dillard's terminated a class of employees nationwide for taking sick leave beyond the maximum amount of time allowed, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to the EEOC, “while the class members had verifications from doctors to assure Dillard's that the absences were due to medical reasons many did not feel comfortable disclosing the specifics of their conditions to the company.” The EEOC alleged the former employees were fired in retaliation for their refusal to provide details of their medical conditions, notwithstanding the fact that many of their own doctors advised them not to disclose specific medical information in accordance with the law.

Contributing Author

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Tina M. Maiolo

A member of Carr Maloney, P.C., Tina Maiolo partners with clients to operate and grow their businesses. She focuses her legal practice in...

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