United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Employment – ADA — medical record confidentiality
Where an employer learned of an employee’s disability outside the context of a medical examination or inquiry, it had no duty to treat its knowledge as a confidential medical record.
“[P]revious courts have required— at minimum—that the employer already knew something was wrong with the employee before initiating the interaction in order for that interaction to constitute a 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B) inquiry. Neither Thrivent nor Omni had any such knowledge here. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that Thrivent or Omni should have inferred that Messier’s absence on November 1, 2006 was due to a medical condition. There is no evidence in the record that Messier had been sickly during his first four months of employment. There is no evidence that Messier had experienced a headache at work during his first four months. For all Thrivent and Omni knew, Messier’s absence was just as likely due to a non-medical condition as it was due to a medical condition. Indeed, as Thrivent pointed out to the district court, ‘Messier could have had transportation problems, marital problems, weather-related problems, housing problems, criminal problems, motivational problems, a car or home accident, or perhaps he simply decided to quit his job at OMNI (which he did just a month later on December 4, 2006.)’ When Brey emailed Messier on November 1, 2006, he had no idea that Messier was ill—let alone disabled. For this reason, Brey’s email cannot be an inquiry for the purposes of 42 U.S.C. § 12112(d)(4)(B).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Greisbach, J., Tinder, J.